Money from Heaven Rains Down on Rapert Mansion
Updated: May 3, 2019
For years Arkansans have been asking the same question over and over. Why does Jason Rapert always seem like he has something to hide? Well here are some possible reasons for folks to consider. Let’s go through them, shall we?
ISSUE 1: Why does one of Rapert’s charities, Holy Ghost Ministries, own a 5,000 sq ft luxury home on 39 acres in Bigelow Arkansas?
Holy Ghost Ministries (HGM) claims to be doing missionary work in the Philippines, but they certainly have nice digs closer to his home (like right next door). According to Rapert's candidate filing he resides at 374 Breezewood Rd. In April 2016 HGM purchased the property located at 398 Breezewood Rd for $535,000 with a personal guaranty from Stanley Jason Rapert and Laurie E Rapert.
I've never personally graced the doors of a missionary headquarters, but I wouldn't have expected the jacuzzi tub.
Back in early 2017, Rapert got some attention for asking churchgoers to give him $325,000 a month so that he could pay for this little kingdom in Bigelow that was supposedly going to be used for ministry purposes. BTW looks like that never happened, but we'll cover that later.
ISSUE 2: How does an organization like HGM afford a $535,000 home?
Holy Ghost Ministries has had some pretty slow years recently, reporting $34,012 in revenue in 2012 and $0 revenue for 2013, 2014, and 2015. Then the organization suddenly had a really good year. HGM reported $133,00 in 2016. It also went from $3,207 in assets to nearly $600K with the purchase of the home. Anyone else able to get a loan to purchase a home with no money down when you have had no income for the three previous years? You might want to try applying at the First Security Bank in Greenbrier.
In the interest of protecting the public from shady politicians, all legislators are required to file annual financial disclosures with the Secretary of State. So when Rapert signed the personal guaranty for the mortgage, he should have included it on his 2016 financial disclosures. Take a look for yourself. It's not there. When Rapert sent out that ridiculous email with his hand out for money he claimed to have sold a business in order to purchase the house, but according to those pesky financial disclosures that's not true either. There are no changes in his business holdings year-to-year from 2015 to 2018. The only change is the disappearance of a couple of stock holdings that were both valued between $1,000-$12,500. That falls far short of the $133,00 that HGM received in 2016. In 2017 HGM brought in $75,362 (that includes $8,000 in an unsecured loan payable to unrelated third parties).
ISSUE 3: Why buy a giant house for a charity that is supposed to be doing missionary work in the Philippines?
Yeah that's a good question. It stumped us too. Here's what we found:
A charity is required to use it's revenue and assets to further it's stated mission. We don't really see how a big ol' house and 40 acres in Bigelow help further "mission projects active in the Philippines." Supposedly the house was going to be turned into a location for "discipleship programs, leadership retreats, bible studies and other ministry events." According to their 2017 tax docs, that never happened. They show zero revenue from services performed or facilities furnished in any activity that is related to the organization's tax-exempt purpose.
So that doesn't really tell us why HGM bought the house, but what we do know is that there are a lot of other benefits that charities receive. Namely, charities are exempt from paying property taxes. (ya know, the taxes that fund our schools)
Another perk of having a charity-owned-home is that all of those pesky bills that come with a house can be paid from tax-free dollars. According to Holy Ghost Ministries' annual tax filing for 2017, the charity spent nearly $9,000 on utilities, lawn care, propane, pest control, phone, security, and repairs.
Maybe it doesn't actually have anything to do with a few thousand dollars in property taxes and fringe benefits. See the other thing with charities is that, unlike certain Arkansas legislators, they don't have to publicly disclose where they get their money. The charity files that information with the IRS on their 990 Schedule B, but it is not part of the public disclosure requirement. So we don't get to see where that $133,000 came from in 2016 or the $75,362 in 2017. That seems to be a common theme with Rapert's charitable endeavors.
ISSUE 4: What’s up with Rapert’s OTHER charity, the American History & Heritage Foundation?
This is where things start getting really interesting. Back in 2015, Senator Rapert established a charity to raise money for the 10 commandments monument. According to the active fundraisers he has up on GoFundMe here and here, AH&HF has raised at least $104,000 through that site. There’s no telling how much they raised from direct donations. No, really. There's no telling because Rapert (after all of his years of supposed ministry & nonprofit experience) didn't file the required annual tax statements for the organization.
Charities are required to file annual financial reports with the IRS. This tax filing, called a 990, is supposed to include donations and expenditures as well as a report of how those expenditures furthered the organizations mission. Even though AH&HF obviously raised a substantial amount of money in 2015 and 2016, they never filed a 990 for those years. When an organization fails to file a 990 for three consecutive years, the IRS automatically revokes the charity's exempt status.
The IRS confirmed on 4/26/19 that American History and Heritage Foundation was auto-revoked in May 2018 (AFTER raising all that money in 2015/2016) for failing to file a 990 for three consecutive years. The organization's exempt status was reinstated in December 2018. So far no tax documents have been uploaded to the IRS site and they could not confirm over the phone whether one has been filed yet.
Where does that leave us now?
We are closing this with more questions than we started with, many that only Senator Rapert can answer. Our elected officials are supposed to operate ethically and transparently to serve the people of Arkansas. If there is nothing to hide, Senator Rapert could simply release the documents that clear all this up. To start we'd like to see the following:
American History & Heritage Foundation's 990 filings for 2015 to present
990 Schedule B for 2016 & 2017 for Holy Ghost Ministries
Itemized expenditure reports for HGM's generic "ministry expenses" in 2016 & 2017
Evidence of the home at 398 Breezewood Rd being used primarily for the stated charitable purposes
Evidence of the business he claims to have sold in 2016, followed by an explanation of why it is not listed on his financial disclosures
Explanation of the failure to disclose the personal guaranty for the mortgage on 398 Breezewood Rd
Documentation of the $8,000 loan that HGM took out in 2017.
Senator Rapert, the people of Arkansas are waiting for the honesty and integrity that Faulkner County GOP recently proclaimed you possess. They seems to have witnessed something that the rest of us are still waiting for.
We are just getting warmed up busting out bad politicians. Got info that Illuminate AR can help shine a light on? Send it to us at IlluminateAR@gmail.com
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