Bakker was sued after receiving written warnings from two attorneys general and two federal regulators over a fake coronavirus cure.
Controversial televangelist Jim Bakker is being indicted for misrepresentation after state- and federal-level investigations found him touting fake coronavirus remedies.
According to The Digital Wise, Bakker had been hawking an item called “Liquid Silver Sol” on his webpage and television show. Bakker, on both mediums, advertised Liquid Silver Sol as a cure for coronavirus, which has infected nearly 9,000 Americans since the beginning of March.
Bakker’s bizarre claims, says Digital Wise, caught the attention of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission and two state attorneys general.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, for instance, issued Bakker a written warning, while her Missouri counterpart, Eric Schmitt, received a complaint from an in-state consumer.
Schmitt, adds The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was quick to escalate: last week, he filed a civil lawsuit against Bakker and his “church,” Morningside Church Productions Inc. In the suit, Schmitt accused Bakker of engaging in “unfair business practices” via the “sale and promotion of fraudulent Covid-19 products […]”
Bakker, it seems, has been positing his Silver Sol as a solution for coronavirus since the beginning of February—just before the disease began its rapid spread in the United States. On a February 12th episode, Bakker asked guest Sherill Sellman whether the Sol would be an effective remedy for COVID-19.
“Let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it’s been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours,” Sellman said, further claiming that Bakker’s snake oil “has been proven by the government that it has the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on including SARS and HIV.”
Schmitt’s lawsuit, notes the Dispatch, was filed in Stone County Circuit Court. Chris Nuelle, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said it’s important to combat misinformation in today’s climate of fear.
“We wouldn’t want a consumer seeing this and thinking it could help them with the coronavirus,” Nuelle said. “If there’s misinformation out there, we want to combat it. If there’s misrepresentations being made, we want to prevent that.”
“The Missouri attorney general’s job is to protect all 6 million Missourians,” Nuelle said. “We want Missourians to know that we are here to help them and we want to hear from them if they see any other scam related to the coronavirus […]”
Interestingly, the Dispatch observes that Schmitt’s conservative allies in the Missouri Legislature are pushing a new bill— called the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, or MMPA—which “protects” businesses from frivolous lawsuits. But in its current form, the MMPA would make it impossible for Schmitt to sue Bakker, because the MMPA only allows civil lawsuits in instances when deception takes place at the time of a product’s sale.
Bakker, notes the Dispatch, has been preaching on television since the 1970s and 1980s. But in 1989, his career was briefly interrupted by a conviction and five-year prison sentence for mail fraud and conspiracy.