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TCT Ministries Sues to Remove Founding Family’s Board Members

It claims that the board members have acted for their own personal benefit.

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TCT Ministries, a nonprofit, faith-based television network, has sued four of its board members for abusing their board positions and violating their fiduciary duties for their own financial benefit.

The lawsuit, filed on January 11 in the 1st circuit court in Williamson County, Illinois, seeks removal of the board members and recovery of damages. It names Tina Coonce, Vicki Clark, Julie Nolan, and Thomas Nolan IV as defendants.

Tina Coonce is wife of TCT’s late founder Garth Coonce, and Clark and Julie Nolan are his children. Thomas Nolan is his grandson. They constitute a majority of TCT’s board and the boards for all of the TCT-related nonprofit entities.

According to court documents, the board members “improperly and over the course of decades personally and excessively benefitted themselves at the expense of the corporation and its related entities to the tune of $7 million.”

TCT was founded by Garth Coonce in 1977 as a Christian station in Cincinnati. It has since grown to a “world-wide network of broadcast stations helping to bring the Gospel message to the world.” Coonce died in January 2023.

On February 3, TCT’s management team made the board aware of some “potentially illegal and/or improper financial transactions.” The board voted unanimously to create an investigating committee to look into the transactions, the lawsuit claims. The two disinterested members of the board were placed on the investigating committee and outside counsel was hired to assist with the investigation, which lasted from February through September.

According to the court filings, the committee concluded that the defendants had for 20 years unlawfully used TCT’s assets for their private benefit.

Some of these included using TCT funds to pay for personal assistants for Garth Coonce and his wife, using the TCT jet to take personal flights, and using TCT funds to pay for residential expenses.

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After the investigation was complete, the committee presented a “corrective action plan” that sought reimbursement of the funds, the removal of Coonce and Nolan from the board of directors, the removal of Nolan from her employment with TCT, filing appropriate disclosures with the Internal Revenue Service, and strengthening TCT’s policies and procedures to prevent such instances from happening again, the court documents state.

On December 20, 2023, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Shapiro emailed TCT’s attorney with concerns about the allegations contained in a whistleblower complaint he had received.

“Please direct each of TCT’s board members to apprise me, in writing under their own signature, what steps they are pursuing to recover these monies and the anticipated timeframe for obtaining full reimbursement, including all interest accrued to date,” Shapiro wrote.

Despite the instructions from the Illinois Attorney General, the defendant board members have not cooperated with the corrective action plan, the lawsuit asserts. Instead, they have attempted to dismantle the investigating committee and installed a new CEO of TCT and new outside counsel who are “beholden to [d]efendants and who will prevent the implementation of the [c]orrective [a]ction [p]lan.”

The defendant board members went so far as to “retroactively change the certified minutes of the February 3, 2023” meeting where the investigating committee was authorized, the lawsuit alleges.

The defendants have not yet filed an answer to TCT’s complaint.

In the MinistryWatch database, TCT Ministries receives a four-star financial efficiency rating, a ‘D’ transparency grade, and a donor confidence score of 60 out of 100, meaning one should “give with caution.”

Main photo: TCT Founders Garth and Tina Coonce. Garth Coonce passed away in Jan. 2023 / Photo via the TCT website

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.