Televangelist Network Returns Millions in PPP Loan After Buying Private Jet

Daystar Television—an evangelical Christian network—has reportedly returned millions of dollars it received as a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, after an investigative report probed whether or not the organization had used the $3.9 million loan to purchase a private jet. The network, which is also categorized as a church and is therefore tax exempt, has denied using the PPP loan to buy the luxury aircraft.

In its recent investigative report, Inside Edition found that Daystar purchased the jet (a 1997 Gulfstream V) just two weeks after receiving a PPP loan from the federal government to help pay its employees' salaries. In a clip featured in a video piece by Inside Edition, Daystar CEO, President and co-founder Marcus Lamb claimed that the church was appraised at over $1 billion. (A 2014 NPR investigation reported that Daystar had about $233 million in assets as of June 2011.)

Inside Edition reported that Lamb, who is also an on-air televangelist, said the jet is used for matters related to the ministry. He also reportedly said that the aircraft wasn't purchased with the PPP loan, but rather with money made through an investment and the selling of another jet. Inside Edition added that Lamb said Daystar purchased the jet for less than half its market value.

After Inside Edition looked into whether the loan had been used to fund the private plane, the organization reportedly paid back the entire PPP loan with interest. A lawyer for Daystar told Inside Edition that the organization doesn't use donations to pay for operations, and that includes the purchase of its jet.

Despite Lamb saying that the jet is used for ministry purposes, Inside Edition noted that the plane has been used to facilitate some curious trips. One example is flying from Dallas to Florida in July. At that time, Lamb's wife, Joni Lamb—who is also a co-founder and vice president of Daystar—posted about being on a family "vacay" on Instagram. Jonathan Lamb, the couple's son who is listed as Executive Director of Operations on Daystar's website, also shared a post on Instagram referring to the trip as a "family beach vacation."

Lamb told Inside Edition that it was a "working vacation," and described it as a retreat with meetings taking place throughout. Inside Edition also reported on other trips the family took, where the televangelist appeared to play golf and relax. On at least one more of the trips, Lamb claimed to have had multiple meetings and a speaking engagement at a church.

Speaking to Inside Edition outside of a Daystar golf tournament in Texas, Lamb responded, "No, we did not," when asked if he'd spent taxpayer money on the jet. When asked about the vacation posts from his wife on social media, Lamb responded, "We did have vacation, but we also did several meetings with ministers while we were there."

Newsweek reached out to Daystar via a media contact form, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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Daystar Television networks announced that it would return $3.9 million in PPP loans following questioning from "Inside Edition" as to whether the church had used the money to purchase a private jet. H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty