The owners of a $1.8 million townhouse on Capitol Hill that has been home and refuge to conservative members of Congress are wrongly claiming a federal tax exemption reserved for religious establishments, 13 Ohio clergy members contend in a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service.
The clergy suspect that the C Street Center, which rents living space to lawmakers, is "an exclusive club for powerful officials . . . masquerading as a church," according to a request for an investigation addressed to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman.
The Ohio clergy, all Protestant members of Clergy Voice, say that the house serves no public interest and has no recognized creed or form of worship.
The 130-year-old brick townhouse at 133 C St. SE. drew unwelcome publicity and the scrutiny of D.C. tax authorities last summer, after South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) said while confessing an extramarital affair on national television that he had sought spiritual advice there. Residents say they share meals and Bible study.