Oh hey, look at Jerry Falwell, Jr. helping another twenty-something guy out with his startup after taking a ride on his private jet.
Reuters reports that Benjamin Crosswhite served as a personal trainer to Jerry Falwell and his wife before receiving some major help from Liberty University to purchase a fitness center from the trustees.
The transaction is interesting for its generosity but also for the funding source: Liberty University, a non-profit educational foundation.
Around 2011, Falwell, president of Liberty University in Virginia, and his wife, Rebecca, began personal fitness training sessions with Benjamin Crosswhite, then a 23-year-old recent Liberty graduate. Now, after a series of university real estate transactions signed by Falwell, Crosswhite owns a sprawling 18-acre racquet sports and fitness facility on former Liberty property. Last year, a local bank approved a line of credit allowing Crosswhite’s business to borrow as much as $2 million against the property.
Oh! Kind of like the other 20-something pool attendant in Florida who bought the flophouse to turn into a youth hostel?
This one is worse, though.
One difference: When Falwell helped Crosswhite, he used the assets of Liberty, the tax-exempt university he has led since 2008. Among the largest Christian universities in the world, Liberty depends on hundreds of millions of dollars its students receive in federally backed student loans and Pell grants.
So here's the deal:
In 2016, Falwell signed a real estate deal transferring the sports facility, complete with tennis courts and a fitness center owned by Liberty, to Crosswhite. Under the terms, Crosswhite wasn’t required to put any of his own money down toward the purchase price, a confidential sales contract obtained by Reuters shows.
Liberty committed nearly $650,000 up front to lease back tennis courts from Crosswhite at the site for nine years. The school also offered Crosswhite financing, at a low 3% interest rate, to cover the rest of the $1.2 million transaction, the contract shows.
Falwell, Jr. was so impressed with Crosswhite that he gave the property to him below market, with a guaranteed lease, and a below-market interest rate on the loan to pay the place off. Sweet deal if you can get it. I wonder what he had to do to score that kind of deal.
That year,  Falwell urged other Liberty personnel in an email to cut Crosswhite a “sweet deal” allowing him to offer private gym training at the Lynchburg fitness facility, then known as the Sports Racket, which Liberty had recently acquired through the trustee’s donation.
“Becki and I wouldn’t mind working out over there with Ben as a trainer because it is more private,” he wrote in the email, which was reviewed by Reuters. Falwell and his wife, who goes by Becki, each work out with Crosswhite twice a week, the university said. Falwell has become a vocal advocate of the trainer’s skills, as have other university executives and clients who work with Crosswhite.
The Falwells brought the trainer along on Liberty’s private jet during a 2012 trip to Miami. Later, Falwell sent an email directing Liberty to lease its gym space to Crosswhite’s fitness business, which began a five year lease in 2013. The cost, according to a lease document: $2,300 per month.
Perhaps it is as simple as sucking up to the guy with the money. Here is Crosswhite helping Falwell, Jr. work up a sweat so he can be lovely for the cameras:
Oh yes, that's it. Looking "good for the camera" to pimp Trump. Sure.
Even if everything is on the up-and-up and there's absolutely no reason to suspect any scandal, it's still nothing more than outright cronyism. By rights, that property should have been considered for bids and not simply signed over to a guy who helped Falwell, Jr shed 75 pounds.