Sen. James Inhofe says there is a clear separation between his staffers work in the Senators office and his position as a Christian missionary serving Africa.
In a video posted on the website of the group Faith and Action, Inhofe said his first visit to Africa was a 1998 trip, arranged by Coe, which he took with his daughter and Powers, who lived in Africa for many years as an Assemblies of God missionary.
Inhofe told Roll Call last week that he never declared that trip as a gift from Coe or the International Foundation on his personal financial disclosure forms because, while Coe paid for the trip initially, then I contributed to some foundation I dont remember what it was the amount of the tickets for myself and my daughter, so I didnt think it was necessary to report it as a gift.
In September 2002, Inhofe gave speeches at three Oklahoma churches and had the congregations donate the honorariums to the International Foundation; those transactions are reported though incorrectly on his disclosure form for that year.
In March 2001, Powers joined Inhofes staff as a part-time employee earning $5,000 a year, but he has remained on the Assemblies of God missionary rolls.
Deborah Sherman, administrative assistant for the Assemblies of God World Missions regional director for Africa, said Powers is not the traditional missionary in the sense of the word.
Most of the churchs missionaries are stationed in their host regions and are there to provide humanitarian assistance and help seed new churches. Powers is stationed in Washington, D.C.
What Mark does and what he does for anybody that asks him he meets with groups of young people who are interested in going to Africa. He has met with doctors. ... His role is just to advise them what they need to know. What is the best type of help they can provide, Sherman said. Mark is an adviser for both the Senators office, which needs to know that cultural inroad, and then what he does for us is actually the same thing. He acts as an adviser.
Sherman said Powers earns his living the same way that other missionaries do: by soliciting donations from individuals or local churches that want to support their missions.
I wasnt aware that Mark is being paid by the Senate, Sherman said.
Inhofes office said Powers was unaware he was still on the Assemblies of God website which accepts donations to Powers African mission and he has asked the church to remove his name.
Inhofe said Powers maintains a deep knowledge of the people and the culture of Africa and serves as the Senators guide.