Crystal Clear Conservative has some pretty stunning insights this evening into the business of Luke Torian, Democratic nominee for the 52nd House of Delegates. It appears that Torian and his wife may be grabbing a cool $300K salary from their church which may be playing awfully fast and loose with the IRS code. After Democrats pulled out the long knives on a number of religious leaders who may have engaged in this sort of behavior (perhaps with some justification), I wonder if they’ll be willing to apply the same standard to another church where the leader of that church happens to be one of their nominees. I’m not holding my breath on that.
This voter inquired about the 990 report, after hearing the claims from some disgruntled members of Torian’s congregation that he is overpaid — allegedly he makes $200,000 and his wife, who serves as the church’s Associate Pastor, is said to pull in $100,000 (which together is surprisingly more than TRIPLE the median household income of those living in the zip code of 22026). Many from within the community report that they have seen Torian driving around in a Hummer and a Lexus, sporting Rolex watches.
Torian refused to provide a copy of the 990 report to the voter, and said, “I don’t care about the IRS.” The voter, then handed Torian a copy of the law, and he still refused to comply with the request.
Torian is required by law immediately to hand over the 990 reports to any member of the public who requests this during regular business hours, as his church is a 501(c)(3) organization, and all non-profits must comply with this request. The information in a church tax return must include unrelated business income and the top five compensated employees of the church.
I get pretty disgusted when supposed men of God start sporting around with Rolex watches and driving Hummers in a fit of conspicuous consumption, and at the same time minister to a community where there are a tremendous number of people suffering terribly due to the economic downturn who are then expected to generously give to support this lavish lifestyle. On it’s face, if this is the case, it absolutely stinks to high Heaven. Ministers don’t need to take vows of poverty by any means, but for goodness sakes, flaunting wealth like this in the face of hardship should really cause discomfort in anyone familiar with passages such as James 2:1-7.
The potential violations of the IRS code here are equally troubling, especially when those violations may be connected to someone who might in the future play a role in selecting what laws Virginians are required to adhere to. The law isn’t “for the little people”, as Leona Hemsley so famously put it, but for everyone, including those people who are deciding what those laws should be. Anyone who can’t follow the rules clearly shouldn’t have any role whatsoever in deciding what the rules should be. If this gets confirmed in subsequent investigations, I think violations here would be an automatic disqualifier for anyone seeking elected office.
Crystal Clear concludes with the following, which I heartily endorse:
Pastor Torian owes it to the people of the 52nd District to clear the air on all of this. I call upon Pastor Torian to release immediately any tax records for his church that have been filed over the past year, to disclose his salary and that of his wife as well as any other compensation that they may receive from the church, and to release his most recent personal tax returns. The allegations made by members of his own congregation are troubling. His attitude towards the law that he exhibited before a potential constituent is even more so.
If this information is not accurate, we need to set the record straight as soon as possible. If it is, the voters need to know what is going on with Luke Torian in order to make an informed decision in November. Disclosing this information is the only way either of these are possible.
Torian owes it to the voters to do so immediately.
UPDATE: Virtucon jumps on this as well. Check it out.
UPDATE 2: Here’s a graphic that might just get your kids engaged in the political process:
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