From Deep Background at MSNBC:
Gov. Mike Huckabee, vastly outspent so far in his bid for the presidency, has turned for funding to a controversial televangelist who is under active Senate investigation. Late last month, Gov. Huckabee held a fundraiser at the Texas estate of millionaire televangelist Kenneth Copeland, his spokesman tells NBC News.
The U.S. Senate currently is investigating Copeland, and five other televangelists, amid allegations that they are improperly using millions in charitable donations for their personal benefit, and, in the process, fleecing their flock. Copeland and the other televangelists have strongly denied those allegations.
“The Huckabee Event was not hosted by Ken Copeland or anyone employed by the church,” a spokesman for Kenneth Copeland Ministries tells NBC. “The Huckabee campaign rented a room at our facility and hosted a private function,” the spokesman says.
The event raised about $100,000 for Huckabee’s campaign and nearly $1 million more in pledges, according to a blog report by Doug Wead, a former Republican strategist with close ties to the evangelical community.
At the time of the private fundraiser, Copeland was hosting a national ministers’ gathering at his headquarters. Hundreds of evangelical ministers were in town. Copeland’s spokesman says the fundraiser took place at the same location, but while the ministers’ gathering was out of session.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, sent lengthy letters last November to Copeland and five other televangelists seeking hundreds of documents. Grassley, the lead Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, says he is following up on complaints from the public and the news media about the popular ministers. “The allegations involve governing boards that aren’t independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances and amenities such as private jets and Rolls Royces,” Grassley writes.
Copeland’s critics accuse the “prosperity-gospel” televangelist of high-flying ways. His donors helped him purchase a $20 million private jet, a Citation X, in 2006, according to his website. And Grassley’s 6-page letter to Copeland asks him to justify the Copelands’ alleged use of the ministry jet for “layovers in Maui, the Fiji Islands and Honolulu.” Grassley writes, “Provide an explanation of the tax-exempt purpose of each layover…”
Last November, Copeland hosted Gov. Huckabee on five of Copeland’s televised programs. At the ministers’ conference last month, Copeland effusively praised Huckabee and said that Huckabee had pledged to support him despite the Senate investigation.
Copeland also quoted Gov. Huckabee as saying: “Why should I stand with them [Senate] and not stand with you? They only got 11 percent approval rating.”
From Arkansas News Bureau:
The former Arkansas governor appeared on CBS and on NBC’s “Meet the Press” a day after winning GOP nominating contests in Louisiana and Kansas.
Meanwhile, Huckabee defended his relationship with Texas evangelist Kenneth Copeland, a friend who has helped him raise campaign money.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, has asked for financial information about Copeland’s ministry over concern that the ministry and others are improperly using their tax-exempt status. Copeland has refused to cooperate.
Copeland has said Huckabee told him he “will stand with you any time, anywhere, on any issue.”
[Tim] Russert asked Huckabee if he was interfering in a congressional investigation. Huckabee said he wasn’t.
“The whole issue with Kenneth Copeland and Chuck Grassley is not an issue that I’m dealing with as a presidential candidate,” Huckabee said.