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JIC Post:By DYANA BAGBY Washington BladeThe Christian Coalition of America is a “shell of its former self,” facing financial decline in the face of numerous recent lawsuits over unpaid bills, according to gay activists. The coalition reported a deficit of almost $1 million to the IRS in tax year 2001, the latest year for which records are publicly available.The most recent lawsuit against the conservative religious group, founded by Pat Robertson in 1989, was filed June 2 by mailing giant Pitney Bowes Bank Inc. in the Court of Common Pleas for the Ninth Judicial District in South Carolina.According to the suit, the Christian Coalition of America, based in South Carolina, did not make payment on the $13,643.44 for postage it purchased on credit on Sept. 3, 1999, and used through June 15, 2003.Pitney Bowes, based in Connecticut, provides postage meters and other mailing services for clients. The mailing company’s attorney, Robert Bernstein of South Carolina, said this week the issue was settled out of court, but declined further comment.“The defendant has failed and refused to make payment of the balance due,” the suit stated.Christian Coalition President Roberta Combs did not return calls seeking comment by press time.With Ralph Reed, now running for lieutenant governor of Georgia, at its helm as executive director between 1989 and 1997, the Christian Coalition was a formidable national political force. It was known for, among other things, mass mailings and voter guides on candidates’ records on such issues as abortion and gay rights.But since Reed left to pursue his own political career, the Christian Coalition has faced multiple lawsuits.Once based in Washington, D.C., but now headquartered in South Carolina, where Combs lives, the Christian Coalition has been sued over unpaid bills in that state alone at least four times in recent years.Combs, who headed the South Carolina chapter of the Christian Coalition, took over the top post from Robertson in February 2002 after serving as its executive director since 1999.Lawsuits on file with the Charleston County Clerk of Court include:A 2004 Federal Express suit against the Christian Coalition for $4,336.64 in unpaid bills between Sept. 3, 2003, and Nov. 4, 2003. This suit was eventually dismissed.On Sept. 11, 2003, Production Design Associates Inc. of South Carolina sued the Christian Coalition for $38,790.30 for not paying for media equipment provided at the coalition’s “God Bless America/Road to Victory” rally on Oct. 11, 2002. The suit was also eventually dismissed.Brede-Washington Inc., an exhibition construction company in Maryland, sued the Christian Coalition in 2003 for $31,098.55 for services at a convention on Oct. 11-12, 2003. This suit remains pending, according to court documents.In addition to vendor lawsuits, 10 African-American Christian Coalition employees filed a $39 million racial discrimination suit against the organization. The suit was settled in 2002 with an out-of-court payment of some $300,000 to the employees. With legal costs, the coalition’s insurance company paid close to $1 million, according to the Washington Times.Christian Coalition tax returns on file at guidestar.org show the organization reported nearly a $1 million deficit in 2001. Records also show Combs, as president, receiving a $120,000 annual salary that year.The Christian Coalition reported a net deficit of $35,266 for tax year 2001, while also reporting a deficit from 2000 of $948,427 for an overall deficit in 2001 of $983,693.According to the IRS form, in 2001 the Christian Coalition reported total revenue for that tax year as $4,423,016, with total expenses at $4,458,282.Gay activists say the organization’s reputation is also waning, even in its home state of South Carolina.“From what I’ve seen here, the Christian Coalition’s competition in that [socially conservative] market comes from other groups such as the Palmetto Family Council and the Baptist Association,” said Bert Easter, past president of the South Carolina Gay & Lesbian Pride Movement. Palmetto Family Council is the South Carolina chapter of Focus on the Family.An article in the Sept. 18 issue of the State, a South Carolina newspaper, quoted Roberta Combs saying fund-raising was hurt by Robertson’s departure.“There’s never enough money,” she said.Gay activist Wayne Besen said the Christian Coalition of America is a “shell of its former self” due in part to Pat Robertson’s credibility problems.Robertson has stated publicly that “Gay Days” at Disney World could cause hurricanes and “possibly a meteor” to hit Orlando. Most recently, he called for the U.S. government to assassinate the president of Venezuela.
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