IFAS | Freedom Writer | March/April 1999 | empire.html

Robertson's financial empire

In the January/February Freedom Writer we reported on the charges that televangelist Pat Robertson used his tax-exempt Operation Blessing airplanes almost exclusively to fly equipment to his for-profit diamond mine in the Congo. Here's an overview of Robertson's empire.

Virginia Economic Development Partnership

Robertson is under fire again, as a result of his appointment to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. State Senator Janet D. Howell, whose complaint two years ago set off the investigation into the alleged misuse of an Operation Blessing aircraft, said Robertson's "ethics are under serious question, and that's not the kind of image that should be put forth by Virginia."

Founder's Village

In another endeavor, Pat Robertson called off plans in February for a $92 million upscale retirement community in Virginia Beach. To be named "Founder's Village," Robertson promoted the village on his "700 Club" TV show, attracting thousands of inquiries from people who wanted to retire near Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. However, in the end, only 119 families deposited the money necessary (between $9,000 and $20,000) to reserve a place in the village. Organizers said that a minimum of three hundred deposits was needed to start the project. The families that sent in deposits were told that they would get their money back with interest. The city of Virginia Beach was counting on receiving $500,000 a year in taxes from Founder's Village. At the completion of the project, the city had promised Robertson a $750,000 incentive grant.

Banking with the Bank of Scotland

The Bank of Scotland has teamed up with Robertson to create a vast banking enterprise in the United States consisting entirely of telephone banking. It will be modeled after Europe's First Direct and Direct Line telephone banking. The Bank of Scotland and Robertson hope to attract five million customers in the US.

Laura Ashley's Board of Directors

In January, Robertson was appointed as a director of the Laura Ashley shop for women's clothing. Laura Ashley executives hope the sometimes faith healer can revive the ailing company.

Past Glory

Robertson's biggest financial success took place in 1995, when he sold The Family Channel, a spin-off of the Christian Broadcasting Network, to Rupert Murdoch, for $1.9 billion.

© 1999 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.