How Much For Room and Broad?

From The Columbus Dispatch:

A group of Columbus pastors is asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether certain members of Congress owe taxes and penalties on cut-rate rent from a Washington boarding house that has a tax exemption as a church.

If the members did pay below-market rental rates to the C Street Center and did not report it as income, “then the members may have significant unreported income-tax liabilities,” the pastors say in a complaint filed yesterday with the IRS.

“We’re saying to the IRS that if something of benefit is being paid to members of Congress under the cover of a church, then that should be reported and taxed,” said the Rev. Al Debelak, senior minister at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Columbus.

Original DVD cover

He and 12 other pastors from mainstream Christian denominations filed a complaint with the IRS on Feb. 23 challenging the tax-exempt status of the C Street Center, a red-brick house at 133 C St. SE, just a short walk from the Capitol.


In yesterday’s supplement to the February complaint, the pastors cite a published report that, in 2009, members of Congress living at the C Street Center paid $950 per month in rent. Comparing the C Street Center to a small hotel or a bed-and-breakfast – it has 12 furnished bedrooms, nine bathrooms, five living rooms and housekeeping services – the pastors said the center is charging well below market rent to the members.

Hotels and other boarding houses offering amenities similar to the C Street Center’s with roughly the same proximity to the Capitol charge between $4,500 and $7,500 a month, according to the complaint.

Marcus Owens, former director of the IRS tax-exempt division and a Washington-based attorney representing the pastors, estimated that members of Congress living at the C Street Center last year received a subsidized rental benefit valued at as much as $70,000 a year. Tax laws, he said, count below-market value rent as income to the recipient that must be reported on annual income-tax filings.


“The tax bill could get fairly hefty for those individuals who have been residents for several years and who failed to report,” he said.

Owens said that congressional members who have lived at the C Street Center also could run afoul of ethics rules that preclude them from accepting gifts exceeding $50.

According to the complaint, members of Congress who lived at C Street in 2009 included U.S. Reps. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.; Bart Stupak, D-Mich.; and Mike Doyle, D-Pa.; and Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla.


The C Street Center has been linked to a secretive evangelical Christian network called the Fellowship Foundation, also known as the Family, whose headquarters is in Arlington, Va.

After the Columbus pastors filed their IRS complaint in February challenging the center’s tax exemption as a church, Richard Carver, president of the Fellowship Foundation, told The Dispatch that his charitable organization does not own the C Street Center and it “is simply not a part of anything we do.”

But a property deed on the C Street Center in 2009 was signed by Marty B. Sherman, secretary of the center. On 2007 federal tax forms filed by the Fellowship Foundation, Sherman is listed as one of the five highest-paid employees of the foundation, and on 2006 and 2007 tax forms the Fellowship Foundation listed the C Street Center as an affiliated organization.


The Rev. Eric Williams, pastor of the North Congregational United Church of Christ on W. Henderson Road and a leader of the 13 pastors, expressed concern that the Fellowship Foundation is co-opting members of Congress to support its political agenda by offering cheap rent at the C Street Center.

“With favors come expectations,” Williams said. “I have to believe that this is about influencing public policy. It sounds like, seems like and smells like lobbying to me.”


Filed under Christianity, Congress, Democrats, humor, IRS, movies, parody, politics, religion, Republicans, Senate, snark, Tom Coburn, Wordpress Political Blogs

31 responses to “How Much For Room and Broad?

  1. writechic

    ♪♪ Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…ha! ♪♪

    Those sons a bitches!!!

    • will they become even bigger heroes to the teabaggers since they weaseled out of paying their taxes? i’m hoping they make a deal with coburn. stay out of jail for tax evasion by telling everything he knows about john ensign and the payoffs to his mistress.

  2. writechic

    A perfect taunt! 🙂

  3. Tax the s**t out of them.

    Then they can hoist the tea party flag–
    Don’t tread on me w the snake logo.

    • it won’t be the taxes, but the penalties and interest that’ll kill ’em. let’s see how attractive they are to their girlfriends when they’re broke!

  4. Girls and their matchmaking, sigh. Pickering didn’t make the list? His old lady is going after the bit on the side that ruined her marriage and under MS law she can sue the hell out of her. Somebody needs to produce a “Congress Goes Wild” video to document the unrestrained poon lust of the modern conserv. Inhofe likes to brag how he negotiated the $12 mil shakedown of Ensign to “only” $92,000. And they all gather in their church to dicuss tapping the power of histories greatest despots like Stalin and Hitler for their personal use. What could possibly go wrong with that?

    • i couldn’t include everyone, and pickering’s been on posters in the past. i decided to cast zach wamp instead this time. i’m still trying to figure out how a residence can be designated a church. it’s not a monastery or a convent. how many churches do you know of that has maid service?

  5. Joanaroo

    With a name like Fellowship Foundation it sounds like it’s too hypocritical, stodgy and self-righteous to be up to anything good.

    • have you noticed that so many of the conservative groups’ names mean the exact opposite of what they stand for? fellowship foundation, focus on the family, freedomworks, etc. i never noticed before, but they sure like F words. good thing, too, because i usually yell one out whenever i hear them mentioned. 😉

  6. Notice taken. It’s just like back as far as grade school when geography would show Peoples Republic or Socialist Republic before a countries name you automatically know it’s totalitarian. Now our current clowns are doing that with Patriot and Freedom_______ fill in blank. And to make matters worse, that brain dead idiot Hannity is calling them out to be little Timmy McVieghs!

    • ‘zactly. as for the timothy mcveigh comment, i’m sure that sean insanity thought he was being very funny and cute. the only problem is that timothy mcveigh is not funny. what he did was horrific, and to use his name in that context was stupid and crass. i can’t speak for the morons in his audience who laughed.

  7. Joanaroo

    Well, Hannity’s idiocy sounds like treason and sedition to me. When one of these Tea Party or militia loons finally gets so riled up by the right- wing media that he takes his favorite AK-47 and blows some ‘liberuls’ to pieces, I hope the law is there to hear him or her say ‘This is for my media god _____’. Then maybe these idiots will see what role they played in inciting violence.

    • it’s certainly idiocy, and you can’t get arrested for that. faux news and the radio hate-talkers are playing a very dangerous game. i think billO turned down the volume after Dr. Tiller’s assassination (even though he never accepted any responsibility), but the others are not following his lead. they’re turning up the heat and riling the unwashed masses. capt underpants, as the last rethug candidate for prez, had the opportunity to warn people to tone down the rhetoric, but he’s too damned selfish to do anything that might lose him his seat in the senate.

  8. jeb

    Oh c’mon, I’m sure they’re just very astute renters. Anyone can get a deal in DC if they really try.

    • yep, that must be it. they’re just bargain shoppers.

      p.s. i wonder if the house is rented out now and how much rent each person is paying.

  9. while they are at it – can they start taxing the Church

    • i don’t think any church should be tax-exempt. of course, those who say they don’t want to pay for abortions with tax dollars because of their religious beliefs don’t understand why atheists and agnostics feel the same way about their money going to subsidize places of worship.