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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 9, 2007
11:19 PM

CONTACT: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Naomi Seligman Steiner - 202.408.5565 / press@citizensforethics.org

 
LWCC May Have Been Paying for Pastor's Stunt Plane
CREW Sends Additional Information to IRS
 

WASHINGTON - February 9 - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) provided the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with additional information, following up on a February 8, 2007 complaint against the Living Word Christian Center (LWCC) in Brooklyn Park, MN. Newly discovered information suggests that LWCC may have been paying for a stunt plane that Mr. Hammond currently owns.

CREW’s complaint alleges that LWCC, a church organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, engaged in illegal financial transactions with LWCC’s senior pastor and founder, James "Mac" Hammond, in which Hammond personally benefitted from the church due to his “insider” status as senior pastor and member of the board of trustees.

Loan documents given to CREW by the blog Minnesota Monitor show that LWCC showered Mr. Hammond with favorable financial deals, including a scheme under which Mr. Hammond purchased a plane, partially on credit, from the church and then leased it back. Under the terms of the lease, the church paid all fuel and maintenance costs associated with that plane and a second plane owned by Hammond, which was also to be used for transporting Hammond and guests to and from church events throughout the United States.

Federal Aviation Administration registration records, discovered yesterday by CREW, reveal that Mr. Hammond currently owns a 1995 Flugzeugbau EA-300L, a small two-seat stunt plane. The manufacturer describes the plane as, “[w]ithout a doubt… the premiere aerobatic, sport and professional aircraft on the market today.” It is unclear how long Mr. Hammond has owned this plane and whether LWCC paid for any of its related costs.

Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, said, “If LWCC was paying for costs associated with a stunt plane, clearly the church would be in violation of federal law.” Sloan continued, “Simply put, Mr. Hammond’s church should not be supporting his aerobatic flying hobby. It is long past time for the IRS to investigate LWCC and resolve whether or not its financial dealings are as illegal as they appear.”

A photo of a Flugzeugbau EA-300L is available on CREW’s blog.

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