Say what you will about Kenneth Copeland, but the Wise County televangelist isn't one to over-share. Copeland, with wife Gloria, was one of six televangelists hand-picked by Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley back in November 2007, over concerns Kenneth Copeland Ministries was enjoying the privileges of its tax-exempt status a little too much.
In February, the church held onto its exemption from paying property taxes related to its private plane fleet, in spite of its refusal to deliver financial details, including staff members' salaries, normally required by the Tarrant County Appraisal District.
Grassley asked Copeland and the other ministers under investigation to submit their financial details; Copeland and his church declined to pony up details (PDF) for anything short of a "legitimate church tax inquiry conducted by the IRS," while telling Grassley the planes were put to personal use "to an insubstantial degree." As other folks came looking for a peek at his books, Copeland's answer was, more or less, what he tells WFAA here: "That's none of your business."
Among the biggest questions for Copeland: why his private planes, which he's said are for humanitarian missions and spreading the Word of Faith message, were spending time in tropical vacation spots like Maui and Fiji. Now, says a ProPublica/USA Today report published late last week, a program to keep private plane flight logs out of the public eye, has given Copeland's church another layer of cover from prying eyes. Says the story:
"The church has five planes on the blocked list, including a $17 million Cessna Citation X. Also blocked is a 1953 North American T-28B Trojan, a vintage warplane registered to Copeland."
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Copeland was among those who wouldn't comment on their reasons for signing on to the program. Others cited security reasons; Hooters CEO Coby Brooks uses the program to make surprise check-up visits to franchises.