An entity linked to a church founded by Illinois Democratic representative Bobby Rush received $3 million in taxpayer-backed government grants last year, according to records.
Rush established the Beloved Community Christian Church, a Chicago-based non-denominational church, in 2002 after paying $800,000 for its site with the backing of a $500,000 loan secured from the New City Bank.
Recent Stories in Issues
"I founded a church in Englewood, one of Chicago's poorest and most fragile neighborhoods, and named it Beloved Community Christian Church," Rush wrote in 2011. "The church, once the site of a Black Panther breakfast program for children, now stands in tribute to Dr. King's vision of the power of community. A social service center, a health center and an after school robotics program are also part of the church's mission to care for people."
A social services arm was created as part of Rush's church called the Beloved Community Family Wellness Center, a not-for-profit federally qualified health center that carries a mission of providing "holistic, comprehensive, accessible, and quality primary health care and social services programs to individuals and the community with a particular focus on the health care needs of the medically underserved population."
The wellness center has collected millions in taxpayer-backed government grants.
A total of $3 million in grants was disbursed in 2018 from the Department of Health and Human Services, records show. Prior to the millions provided last year, the wellness center had taken in more than $15 million over the past 10 years.
Rep. Rush's daughter, Kacy, is listed as a director of the Beloved Community Family Wellness Center on its most recently available tax forms from 2016. Rush's daughter does not collect compensation from the center.
The group reported $4.6 million in total revenue that fiscal year, $2.8 million of which came from government grants while $1.6 million was taken in from program service revenue.
Another nonprofit that was started as part of its overall operations, Beloved Community Family Services Inc., has also received taxpayer-backed funds.
The Democratic congressman requested a $100,000 earmark for Beloved Community Family Services, which was approved in 2008. The nonprofit was ultimately awarded a final amount that was $200,000 more than the original request—$305,500—which was added onto an appropriations bill at the time.
The $500,000 loan Rush had initially taken out to help launch his church also later went delinquent.
At the time of the loan, Rush started Rebirth of Englewood, an organization devoted to community development, to provide affordable housing, a technology center, and various other programs to help the community. Much of these stated goals never transpired.
In 2017, Rush was hit with a $1.1 million judgment for $542,000 in unpaid principal, $441,000 in interest, and almost $50,000 in attorney fees.
Rush has also pushed more than $200,000 from his campaign's coffers to the church over the years.
Rush's office did not respond to a request for comment.