A coronavirus ‘cure’ hawked by televangelist Jim Bakker is entirely bogus. That’s according to New York AG Letitia James’ office, which is suing The Jim Bakker Show.
Late Tuesday Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced a lawsuit against Jim Bakker, his mid-February show guest Sherrill Sellman and the Jim Bakker Show.
The news came barely a week after the disgraced Branson-area televangelist sued the state of Arkansas, the city of Los Angeles and two California counties over investigative demands by those jurisdictions related to Bakker’s on-air sales of a colloidal silver product that Bakker and Sellman claimed could “eliminate” coronaviruses from the human body “within 12 hours” during a broadcast four months ago.
Two drugs have been endorsed by scientists to treat the novel coronavirus: the anti-viral remdesivir and an inexpensive steroid, dexamethasone, announced by health authorities on Tuesday.
Colloidal silver products are not Food and Drug Administration-endorsed drugs; the Trump administration says “evidence supporting health-related claims is lacking” in regards to them and that “colloidal silver can be dangerous to your health.”
Rutledge noted that 385 Arkansas consumers have purchased more than $60,000 silver products “for false COVID-19 cures.”
The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Rutledge, in a written statement, said Bakker had “exploited” Arkansas consumers by selling “products that do nothing to fight the virus.”
She added, “Let me be clear, this case is not about freedom of religion. This is a consumer fraud case, and I urge any Arkansans who have experience with these false advertisements claiming silver to be a COVID-19 cure to immediately call my office.”
Bakker is also named in a similar suit filed in March by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. He has faced other legal action from the state of New York and two agencies of the Trump administration.
Former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon joined Bakker’s defense team last month, asserting that the Missouri suit infringes on Bakker’s First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion, as well as his Fifth Amendment right to due process.
In a written statement issued Tuesday, Gov. Nixon said, “The Arkansas Attorney General’s lawsuit is obviously in direct response to our prior suit seeking to protect the names, addresses and contribution histories of church members. Through our lawsuit filed last week in federal court we took necessary steps to protect our clients’ constitutional rights, and the rights of its congregation.”
Nixon, now practicing law in St. Louis, added, “Attorney General Rutledge’s filing today confirms that our action to prevent this type of retaliation was warranted. The Constitution, federal statutes and prior cases clearly provide protection from this intrusion.”
Nixon also said, “It is important to note that Pastor Bakker never said silver solution prevented or cured COVID-19. Silver solution and similar supplements are also commonly sold at Walmart, GNC, CVS and on Amazon, without legal action from the Arkansas Attorney General.”
Rutledge, the Arkansas attorney general, is asking the court to order restitution for affected consumers, injunctive relief and civil penalties. In a news release, she noted violations of Arkansas’ deceptive-practices law can trigger civil penalties of $10,000 per violation.
She urged all those “who have purchased products” from Bakker or Sellman to contact her office.
Bakker’s wife, Lori Bakker, said recently on the Jim Bakker Show that the televangelist had experienced a stroke, but that he is recovering. Bakker has not appeared on the Jim Bakker Show since mid-May.
The Jim Bakker Show broadcast for Tuesday featured guest Robert Henderson and the theme of “petitioning the courts of heaven during a time of crisis.”
Bakker first made headlines in the 1980s over accusations of sexual misconduct and federal felony fraud convictions tied to financial dealings at Bakker’s Heritage USA development.
Gregory Holman is the investigative reporter for the News-Leader. Email news tips to [email protected] and consider supporting vital local journalism by subscribing. Learn more by visiting News-Leader.com/subscribe.
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