.- A top Republican on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee is investigating the finances of televangelist preachers after allegations of corruption, the Associated Press reports.
The investigation by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa is a response to reports of extravagant spending by preachers, whose purchases include Rolls Royces and a $30,000 conference table. Senator Grassley said in a statement he was acting on complaints from the public and news coverage of the organizations, which enjoy tax exemptions.
Those under scrutiny include faith healer Benny Hinn, Georgia megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar, and one of the nation's most prominent women preachers Joyce Meyer.
Most of the organizations under investigation adhere to a variation of the "prosperity gospel" which teaches that God will reward faithful followers with material wealth.
Earlier this week Senator Grassley sent letters to a half-dozen Christian media ministries requesting answers by December 6 about their expenses, executive compensation and amenities, including the use of expensive cars and private jets.
"I don't want to conclude that there's a problem, but I have an obligation to donors and the taxpayers to find out more. People who donated should have their money spent as intended and in adherence with the tax code," Senator Grassley said.
Some ministries are already reporting that they are cooperating with the investigations.
Joyce Meyers Ministries issued a statement claiming that the IRS has already determined that they have not violated their tax-exempt status.