Michael Weinstein Cuts Pay, Now Under Half of Charity’s Revenue

Michael Weinstein, the only paid officer and President of his Military Religious Freedom Foundation, reduced his personal compensation by nearly $80,000 in 2010, according to his most recent tax documents.  That same year, his “charity” saw a slight decrease in revenue of about $13,000, despite $120,000 in grants from the Rockefeller Family Fund and $10,000 from the Aspen Community Foundation.

In prior years Weinstein’s exorbitant salaries — which are paid by himself, to himself, from his charity’s revenue — have been highlighted as inconsistent with both his implications that donations to his charity “support the troops” and with the general practices of other charities, whose president/CEO compensations are generally markedly lower (even if the charities are markedly larger).

The $218,201 Weinstein paid himself from the MRFF funds still represented 41% of his charity’s total revenue in 2010.  That’s down from the 54% he paid himself in 2009, though it still represents a substantial percentage of what his donors are presumably paying the organization to do.

The amount of money he claims his organization uses for “program expenses” (eg, those costs that actually contribute to the mission of his charity), apart from similar known compensations, remained essentially static at about $106,000, though that included non-descript “consulting,” “support,” and similar costs, and presumably other expenses like Weinstein’s much ballyhooed personal bodyguards.

That’s not insignificant, either, considering the law firms who do the actual legal work on Weinstein’s behalf reportedly do so pro bono, raising the question of what his donors are actually paying for.  The rest of the funds went to management and fundraising.

While most people likely assume charities are supported by individuals and their checkbooks, it seems there is a veritable mass market of inter-organizational grants, often from one charity to another. In 2009, for example, a full 20% of Weinstein’s donations came from a single source:  the Jewish Communal Fund.

In 2010 Weinstein announced a job opening at the MRFF — for a person whose sole purpose would be to obtain grants for his charity.  Given the drop off in funding, it doesn’t seem that turned out like he’d hoped.  In fact, the Jewish Communal Fund reduced its contributions to the MRFF to $28,000 from $115,000 the prior year.  The Stiefel Freethought Foundation — the same person footing the $50,000 tab for Rock Beyond Belief — contributed $1,000.

In short, Michael Weinstein may have tightened his belt in 2010, but his personal compensation still amounted to nearly half of everything his “charity” brought in.  If the trend continued into Michael Weinstein’s 2011 salary (something that won’t be known until next year, due to Weinstein’s habit of delaying his tax filings), contributors to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation will have paid Weinstein more than $1 million, plus expenses:

MRFF Compensation to Michael Weinstein:

2005: Formed
2006: $116,330
2007: $0
2008: $252,485
2009: $296,232
2010: $218,201
2011: Not yet reported

That’s a fair sum for someone who does little more than publish diatribes filled with alliterative hyperbole against religious freedom in the US military.  It’s also notable that over the course of his “charity’s” existence, with the exception of the outlier in 2007, he’s taken an average of 47% of his charity’s revenue as his personal compensation.

In other words, nearly half of every dollar sent to his charity has gone directly to his paycheck.

Not a bad gig if you can get it.