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Tipsheet

Raphael Warnock Tried to Avoid a Character Debate. He Has One Now.

Ken Cedeno/Pool via AP, File

Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock refuses to go near the abortion fiasco that’s ensnared his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker. There’s also a slew of family drama compounding Walker’s public relations debacle. This development isn’t new regarding Walker, who is a flawed candidate—we all were bracing for these stories to trickle out. With Republicans surging amid a lagging economy, dismal approval ratings from Biden, and the abortion hysterics petering out—Democrats can’t get complicit in a state that is still eminently winnable for Republicans, even with candidates that have more than a few skeletons in the closet. Also, Warnock is no angel either, which has been covered extensively. Now, he faces a new hit to his image as his church, where he serves a senior pastor, was reportedly evicting poor people from their apartments during COVID. Is Warnock a working-class ally to the people of the Peach State? It looks like Raphael works for a church that operates like a slumlord (via Washington Free Beacon):

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"Unemployment benefits have expired, rent is due today, and many Georgia families are at risk of eviction in the middle of a pandemic," Sen. Raphael Warnock (D., Ga.) wrote in a tweet in August 2020, charging that by failing to act, his political opponents were "clearly only concerned with serving their own interests." 

It may be good political rhetoric, but Warnock’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the senator serves as senior pastor—drawing a salary as well as a generous $7,417 monthly housing allowance—has moved to evict disadvantaged residents from an apartment building it owns, one of whom it tried to push out on account of merely $28.55 in past-due rent. 

The church is the 99 percent owner of the Columbia Tower at MLK Village in downtown Atlanta, according to documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, which describe the building as a home for the "chronically homeless" and those with "mental disabilities."

A dozen eviction lawsuits were filed against Columbia Tower residents over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, the first one in February 2020 and, most recently, in September 2022. The total sum of past-due rent cited in the lawsuits is just $4,900, a figure that could have been covered by one of Warnock’s monthly housing stipends from the church.

The lawsuits were filed by Ebenezer Baptist Church’s business partner, Columbia Residential, the 1 percent owner of the building, which manages its day-to-day operations. The revelations threaten to undermine Warnock’s efforts to cast himself as an ally of struggling Georgians working to meet rent in the face of pandemic-era challenges.

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Warnock has thus far refused to delve into issues that could boil down to a character debate. Well, he could have one now—and it’s an issue that shreds to the core of his campaign message. You can’t say you stand and fight for ordinary Georgians in DC when the church that pays you nearly $8,000/month in housing expenses is booting those out of their residences for being $30 shy in their rent payments.

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