The pastor of a New Jersey church, Phil Rizzo, sold his home for $1.65 million in 2017. POLITICO reports that the buyer, City Baptist Church -- which is the church Rizzo leads -- says that Rizzo and his family still live in the house tax free.
"The home's Zillow listing says it was sold in 2017 for $165,000, but public records, which list it as a property tax-exempt parsonage, show a sum of $1.65 million," POLITICO reports.
Rizzo is also a long shot candidate for the state's Republican gubernatorial nomination, and he espouses all the familiar debunked narratives about alleged voter fraud in the 2020 election. He also apparently thinks left-wing activists were behind the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
After the house was sold to the church, it underwent luxury upgrades and was put up for sale in 2020. When the listing was taken down in November, the asking price was $2.65 million.
Rizzo says that when he "decided to walk away" from his business of building and renovating homes, his church was not able to provide a salary.
"Instead, the church decided to purchase my home as an asset and allow my family and I to continue living there," he said. "In addition, the home provided peaceful and beautiful acreage in Harding, out of the city, where we could bring our church and community for family dinners, picnics, games, Bible studies, and kids events. You can fault me for many things — just ask my kids! But I don't believe this is one of them."
According to POLITICO, Rizzo's campaign refused to answer follow-up questions regarding how the church was able to raise the money to purchase his home, "why it paid him more for the house than he paid for it, whether he or the church paid for the renovations and examples of recent church events he held at the home."
"The house is now exempt from property taxes, according to public records," POLITICO reports. "According to the Zillow listing, it was assessed at $1.37 million in 2018 and the property taxes were $15,388. According to public records, the house was assessed at nearly $1.84 million in 2020."
Read the full report over at POLITICO.