Fact Check: Did Raphael Warnock Receive Donations From Pastor Who Hosted Fidel Castro?

Reverend Raphael Warnock, one of the two Democrats in the Senate runoff election in Georgia, has been confronted about his history with the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, specifically regarding an event in 1995 when the church hosted Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

As Newsweek previously reported, Warnock repeatedly has said that he was a youth pastor at the time and did not have any involvement with the event.

Now, Fox News is reporting that Warnock's campaign received donations from the reverend who hosted and praised Castro in the '90s—Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church and president emeritus of the State University of New York (SUNY) Old Westbury.

The event, which took place on October 23, 1995, was recorded on video by C-SPAN. There is no evidence that Warnock was involved in it.

The Claim

On December 30, Fox News published a story claiming that Butts donated thousands of dollars to Warnock's campaign, citing filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The Facts

According to Forbes, more than 2.5 million people already have voted in the Georgia runoffs slated for January 5. Warnock, along with Jon Ossoff, are looking to unseat Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively.

@ReverendWarnock refused to say if he was at his church’s event celebrating Castro — AGAIN.

It’s a simple question — but Warnock refuses to answer it because he was there and he doesn’t want Georgians to know it. #gapol #gasen pic.twitter.com/tBppt5UkWG

— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) December 18, 2020

Though Politifact found that there was no proof that Warnock "welcomed" Castro in 1995, Loeffler has used the claim to challenge his credibility on several occasions but has not mentioned the possibility of donations from Butts.

According to The Washington Post, Warnock has raised $103 million in the past two months leading up to the Georgia runoffs.

Data from the FEC shows that Butts made three individual donations to "Warnock for Georgia," totaling $1,750.

On July 25, Butts donated $1,000, while on April 17, he donated $250, and on March 31, he donated $500.

Butts has donated to other politicians over the years, including former President Barack Obama when he was running for Senate in 2004.

Other donations were made to former U.S. representatives Sandford D. Bishop Jr. in 1996 and 2000, Steve Israel in 2009, Tim Bishop in 2009, Scott Murphy in 2009 and Charles Rangel in 2004, 2010 and 2011.

Warnock and Butts did not respond in time for publication.

The Ruling


Butts did donate to Warnock's U.S. Senate campaign. Records from the FEC confirm three separate donations made throughout 2020 totaling $1,750, but not thousands.

Raphael Warnock and Kelly Loeffler
Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock speaks during the Vote GA Blue concert on December 28, 2020, in Stonecrest, Georgia, and his runoff opponent, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, speaks during a campaign rally on December 20, 2020, in Cumming, Georgia. Paras Griffin/Jessica McGowan/Getty
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