Falwell steered Liberty University land deal benefiting his personal trainer

"Jerry Falwell Jr personally approved real estate transactions by his nonprofit Christian university that helped his personal fitness trainer obtain valuable university property, according to real estate records, internal university emails and interviews." - Reuters

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Bert Perry's picture

The first half of the article reads like a standard hit piece, the second half provides some evidence that at the very least, the transfer of the property from Liberty to Falwell's personal trainer was quite clumsy.  To draw a picture, sweetheart deals for real estate are relevant here; whether Michael Cohen hid stolen photographs of the Falwells from the public eye is not.  The inclusion of accusations like the latter gives cause to view things as a hit piece.

That said, I can say that at the very least, this was clumsy and looks bad.  Lesson to be learned for the rest of us; if you donate property to a church, ministry, college, or whatever, you need to either make sure that it will be useful to the central ministry of that group, or you need to consider simply selling it and giving the proceeds to that ministry, or helping the ministry do the same if the tax treatment will be more favorable.  Remember that pastors and other ministry leaders are not generally gifted property managers. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

The rub in the whole debate is something neither source really answers; did Crosswhite get the facility for less than market price, or with conditions no other buyer would have gotten?  Another question where you'd have to ask a realtor or real estate lawyer/accountant for answers; is the facility one that could thrive in any conditions in Lynchburg absent special considerations from a large entity like the university? 

Total ballpark guess; Lynchburg is about 3/4 the size of Rochester, MN, and Rochester has at least two indoor tennis facilities that I know of.  Obviously our little clinic/major employer/mostly benevolent dictators have something to do with this, but it's not entirely implausible when I compare that Lynchburg could support at least one such facility.  So in that light, was it a total sweetheart deal, or was it "we're going to make sure this facility gets to someone who understands the business?".

For the answer to that, I guess, let's see how the club pans out.  That will tell us how well the Crosswhites understand the business.  It's the same kind of analysis we do when the federal government funds alternative energy companies that go bankrupt.  OK, was that legitimate subsidy, or was it buying environmentalists' votes?  Chapters 11 and 7 told the tale.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.