en. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) is in hot water again over a recent claim he made regarding his church and an apartment building that it owns.
Warnock, who is locked in a tight midterm race with GOP nominee and NFL great Hershel Walker, vehemently denied on Friday that the church where he is a senior pastor has been evicting tenants, claiming such allegations are just an attempt to “sully Ebenezer Baptist Church.”
“But just two days earlier, the apartment complex owned by his church filed eviction proceedings against three additional residents, with the goal of ousting tenants who owed as little as $115 in past-due rent,” the Washington Free Beacon — which initially broke the story — reported.
The outlet continued:
Columbia Tower at MLK Village filed removal proceedings against three tenants on Oct. 12, one day after the Washington Free Beacon broke the news that the church-owned building had filed a dozen eviction lawsuits against residents of the building since the start of the pandemic.
Residents told the Free Beacon that Columbia Residential, the building’s administrators, has become more aggressive in its rent collection policies, and sent out a notice in September saying it would no longer accept late fees and would start removal proceedings after five days of non-payment.
“If you don’t pay your rent by the fifth, a dispossessory notice comes out that week,” a resident told a Free Beacon reporter who went to the building earlier this month. “They won’t accept the payment after the fifth.”
Unemployment benefits have expired, rent is due today, and many Georgia families are at risk of eviction in the middle of a pandemic.
My opponents are supposed to be serving the people in Washington, but they're clearly only concerned with serving their own interests
— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) August 1, 2020
Warnock said otherwise, however.
“There have been no evictions, full stop,” he said when asked about the Free Beacon report during a debate with Walker on Sunday. The Georgia Democrat went on to claim that the news was “one more example of Herschel Walker and his allies lying” and “trying to sully the name of Dr. King’s church, John Lewis’s church, for short-term-political gain.”
But according to Fulton County Magistrate Court records filed by Columbia Tower, there have been recent evictions and they involved tenants just a few days late paying October rent, some owing less than $115.
The apartment complex is 99 percent owned by Ebenezer Baptist Church.
The Free Beacon also reported that two other Columbia Tower residents who were sent eviction notices last month told a court that the landlord would not accept their rent payments.
“I offered and had money to pay my rent on or before the date I usually pay, but my landlord refused to accept it,” the two residents noted in their responses to Columbia Tower’s dispossessory notices.
One of the residents told the Fulton County Magistrate Court following receipt of an eviction notice that Columbia Tower “drills locks in door with no probal [sic] cause didn’t give notice to vacate,” and that he was “evicted for 1 night by lock change, incurred hotel fee.”
Meanwhile, as the church apparently evicts residents over a few days’ worth of late rent, it pays thousands a month in a housing allowance for Warnock.
Warnock's church has the resources to help these people.
It pays Warnock a $7,417 monthly housing allowance as he serves in the Senate, and the church's audited financial statements obtained by @FreeBeacon show it ended 2021 with cash and "cash equivalents" exceeding $1.2 mil.
— Andrew Kerr (@AndrewKerrNC) October 11, 2022
One resident, Phillip White, 69, a Vietnam War veteran, told Kerr, “They treat me like a piece of s**t. They’re not compassionate at all.” He said the church has moved to evict him twice; the first time he paid $179 in back rent plus another $325 in fees.
After the story broke, Walker stepped up.
“I have never known a preacher that likes abortion even after birth, won’t pay his child support and evicts poor people to the street. I will pay the $4500 in past due rents listed in this news article to keep @ReverendWarnock from evicting these people,” he pledged.