At a time when Inspiration Networks has been cutting jobs, freezing wages and even adjusting the office thermostat to save money, the chief executive of the Charlotte-area broadcaster has invested about $4-million in a lakefront home under construction in South Carolina.
CEO David Cerullo's new house includes more than 9,000 heated square feet, along with a 2,000-square-foot screened porch, records show. It sits on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains west of Greenville in a gated community that overlooks Lake Keowee.
And it's shaping up to be one of the priciest houses in western South Carolina. On Realtor.com, just two homes in the greater Greenville area are on the market for more than $4 million.
Cerullo's fast-growing religious network, meanwhile, is drawing scrutiny for the money it collects from donors and the incentives it won from the state of South Carolina to move from Charlotte.
The broadcaster has raised tens of millions, largely by telling viewers that God brings financial favor to those who donate.
As the nonprofit network has grown – with revenues expected to approach $100 million this year – so has Cerullo's salary.
With compensation exceeding $1.5 million a year, Cerullo is the best-paid leader of any religious charity tracked by watchdog groups, the Observer reported last month.
A network spokesman did not respond last week to repeated calls and e-mails requesting comment about the new house. In a March interview, Cerullo defended his salary and said he's turned down recommendations that he be paid more. He said that appeals to donors are based on the Bible, and 80 cents of every dollar donated is spent to spread the Gospel.
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