A federal judge on Thursday dismissed Branson-area televangelist Jim Bakker's lawsuit against Arkansas and California attorneys looking to investigate the sale of a liquid product Bakker claimed would cure COVID-19.
In a court filing, a judge wrote the court did not have jurisdiction over the Arkansas Attorney General nor Los Angeles-area officials investigating consumer protection violations and couldn't stop their requests to receive information including the names and phone numbers of people who had purchased the product.
The decision comes roughly six months after Bakker first advertised a "silver sol" product on his show, which one guest claimed would "eliminate" coronavirus from the human body "within 12 hours."
Those assertions directly contradicted scientific understanding about how the virus can be treated, primarily using the promising, yet scarce, antiviral drug remdesivir and convalescent plasma. Neither of those options are considered a "cure," however.
Attorneys for Bakker, which included former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, wrote in court filings that requiring a church to hand over records including names, addresses and personal financial information was a violation of several constitutional rights, including the freedom to exercise religion and freedom of speech.
In a news release, Nixon wrote: "it's extremely disturbing that this is happening in America."
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, for her part, wrote in a statement that the investigation was an attempt to protect "consumers (who) were deceived by Mr. Bakker and may have been financially and physically harmed by his misdeeds."
Bakker's lawsuit wasn't the first time he found himself in court over the "silver sol" product.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt andNew York Attorney General Letitia James both sued Bakker and his Morningside Church over the product.
The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission also sent a letter notifying Bakker's operation that products like silver sol are "unapproved drugs that pose significant risks to patient health."