Report: Mikey Weinstein “Cashing in” using Charity

The Military Times family of papers, which has generally been friendly to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s campaign against military religious freedom, published an “exclusive” essentially accusing Weinstein of handsomely profiting from the charitable donations he solicits for his MRFF.

Interestingly, the article makes the same points that have been made here for years. In fact, the headline uses the same language that this site used in 2009 (“cashing in”) — language over which Weinstein had threatened to sue because he considered such a characterization to be “defamation.”

The article also notes, as this site has in the past: 

[Weinstein’s pay] is also exceptionally large compared with top salaries at most nonprofits, military-related and otherwise — especially those the size of MRFF…

Weinstein…quickly became one of the best-compensated nonprofit executives in the country — taking a percentage of his group’s receipts that is unheard of in the military community…

The Military Times spoke with Charity Navigator, the source for the same data used here to note Weinstein’s exorbitant pay. While Charity Navigator doesn’t rank the MRFF, they did find Weinstein’s pay to be “very high:”

“For a charity that size, I would definitely say the compensation is very high,” said Sandra Miniutti, vice president for marketing and chief financial officer of Charity Navigator.

Much of what is in the article has been written about here before, but the Military Times did reveal two new facts:

First, Weinstein — the sole paid employee of his own “charitable” MRFF — admits that he votes with his board on his own salary, which the article says may violate IRS rules.

Second, Weinstein routinely uses his “Nobel prize nominations” as a defense of his work, and did so again in the Times article. The paper confirmed what has long been suspected: The MRFF has been nominating itself for the Nobel peace prize:

After several inquiries from Air Force Times, Weinstein said MRFF was nominated by Bobby Muller…Muller is also a member of MRFF’s advisory board…

The MRFF has used the nomination as an attempt to add an air of legitimacy to Weinstein’s crusade — while the nomination came from its own staff, a detail Weinstein conveniently omitted.

As has been repeatedly said here in the past, if people want to donate to Weinstein, they are free to do so.  But, as with every similar organization, it is worth knowing the character and quality of the group to whom you are contributing your money.  Of Weinstein’s MRFF, the Charity Navigator rep observed that no one is really minding the store…except its sole self-paid employee, Mikey Weinstein:

“Nobody’s really keeping an eye on the organization, making sure it’s fiscally responsible and delivering on its intended mission,” Miniutti said. “It’s concerning to see such a small board with such a highly compensated individual…”

Given that Weinstein can’t be trusted to be forthright about something like a Nobel prize nomination, it is natural to question the salary he pays himself and the wisdom of making “charitable” donations to support that compensation.

If you want to support real military religious freedom, there are far better organizations who do a far better job of that mission — and do so with integrity.

Further data and a history on Mikey Weinstein’s pay from his MRFF can be read here.

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5 comments

  • There is most certainly a hidden agenda for reporting this story. I can only speculate that Mikey is making some people very uncomfortable and they are questioning his integrity and anything else they can dig up. Can’t wait to see how this plays out, but I’ll bet it will make him even more determined to do what he does best…fight for “REAL” religious freedom for our US Military service members. Oh, and yes, get well deserved compensation for it too!

    • @watchtower
      If there’s nothing wrong with what Weinstein is doing, why do you characterize the story as having a “hidden agenda”? Do you dispute the veracity of the article?

  • This all has to do with misplaced religious belief. For centuries religion has separated populations, countries and cultures. Religion has been the igniter of war and the instrument of death for millions. The depth of dangerous religious belief can be seen world wide, in the Mideast, Europe, Asia, and especially in the mid-East and Western Hemisphere where dominant Christian and Muslim sects have led countries into a raging struggle between various Christian and Muslim belief systems.

    The question of providing religious freedom in the military has been approached from several different angles and the one imminently fair and all-encompassing approach has been introduced by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and its president, Mikey Weinstein,

    It is vital the our military and others around the world do not succumb to sectarian belief systems and all work together side by side to ensure world peace. This is Mr. Weinstein’s mission.

  • Well JD, the report sites Mikey “Profits” from the work he does and that’s just plan ridiculous. Now here are some real profits —

    Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, President/CEO – International Fellowship of Christians and Jews = $1,203,690
    William E. Evans, Director/CEO – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/ALSAC = $939,979
    Nancy A. Brown, CEO American Heart Association = $843,779
    Larry Jones, Past CEO Feed the Children/Americans Feeding Americans = $800,000

    Some good money (profits) and benefits from charity organizations….don’t you think? We are in the wrong line of work…geez! So again, why report Mikey’s “SALARY” on a Military news website unless there is a hidden agenda?

  • @watchtower

    why report Mikey’s “SALARY” on a Military news website…

    Weinstein quite loudly asserts his role in influencing the military. Of the examples you cited, only Weinstein has begged for money to “support the troops.” None of your other examples make similar claims.

    If a donor sends $1 to Weinstein (to “support the troops”), approximately 47¢, give or take, goes directly to his pocket — and that doesn’t even account for reimbursements or other revenue streams. If a donor sends $1 to Eckstein, to use your example, approximately , give or take, goes to his pocket.

    The Air Force Times laid out the numbers, as has this site in the past. They are factually correct, and attested to by Weinstein’s own signature. Some MRFF supporters admit this makes Weinstein look bad — and Weinstein himself has called this “character assassination” and implied it was defamatory to his reputation for people to know how much he pays himself. So he thinks it makes him look bad, too.

    You probably agree, or you wouldn’t be using salary comparison to defend him. Instead, you’d simply say “who cares if he pays himself about half of the tax-deductible donations he receives to ‘support the troops’?” Of course, the answer to that question is ‘lots of potential donors…’

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