Mikey Weinstein’s Charitable Salary Total Reaches $1.95 Million

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein seems to be making a comfortable living doing little more than attacking Christians in the US military.

The most recent financial disclosures for his Military Religious Freedom Foundation (from 2014, released nearly two years later) reveal that he paid himself, as the sole employee of the “charity” he self-founded, $244,232 in compensation from the tax-deductible donations his organization received.

While it is a slight reduction from the $299,634 he paid himself in 2013, it still accounts for a sizeable 35% of all contributions to his MRFF.

Since he founded his laughably-categorized “non-profit” in late 2005, Mikey Weinstein has pocketed approximately $1.95 million. In other words, of every $1.00 donated to his “charity,” about $0.39 has gone straight to his wallet since he created his foundation. Not bad for “charity” work.

At various times, Weinstein’s acolytes have tried to characterize this exorbitant compensation — which even caught the attention of the national news media — as a way to “repay loans” (as described by Rick Baker) or “repayment” of his previous self-sacrifices (as described by Chris Rodda). Aside from those descriptions potentially running afoul of his statements to the IRS, the attempts to characterize his service as martyrdom (which he has also done himself) are belied by the implicit and explicit compensation Weinstein receives — from himself.

For example, in 2014 the MRFF paid not just Weinstein’s salary, but also a total of $23,000 in travel and meals — including reimbursable travel by family members. The MRFF also paid for

  • more than $15,000 in insurance
  • more than $10,000 in undefined “benefits”
  • nearly $10,000 to publish Weinstein’s book
  • more than $5,000 in “subscriptions”
  • nearly $18,000 for “security”, and
  • an amazing $8,600 for the telephone.

The MRFF even covered nearly $3,000 in “repairs” — for a charity with no apparent physical assets that operates out of Weinstein’s house.

It’s unknown precisely how much of this expense coverage goes only to Weinstein — perhaps he covers Chris Rodda’s phone as well, and half the town’s phone bills, at that astounding expense rate.  Still, with his “charity” covering such a wide array of expenses, it’s a wonder Weinstein has to pay for anything at all.

This is especially notable when an MRFF insider once revealed they only take cases if they can find lawyers to work them for free.

There also remains the undefined “consulting” expense cited by the MRFF, which in 2014 rose again to more than $110,000.

As noted previously, despite claiming he works 105 hours a week, Weinstein and his wife, Bonnie, manage to have a consulting firm called MIBON Consulting on the side that, with two reported employees, apparently makes around $100,000 a year. That said, Mikey Weinstein testified he had never been paid as a consultant for his own charity. Of course, he also claimed the “consulting” line item was for public relations and grant-writing, which, oddly, he itemized elsewhere.

While financial disclosures for charities are supposed to provide transparency, it is fairly difficult to see what Weinstein really spent money on. Besides paying himself and expenses, most other expenses are vague generalizations.

He paid $36,000 in “support” and another $34,000 in “program public announcements.” If Weinstein’s vague references and prior practices are any indication, these payments are likely ‘salaries’ for people — as his $32,000 “research” expense has previously been identified as a line item for Chris Rodda (who presumably did much of the MRFF’s work, at about 13% of Weinstein’s pay). Most of his other expenses that are distinguishable are related to public relations — which seems to be his primary “charitable” mission.

2014 was a notable year because, as previously noted, this was the first year in which the “scandal” of his outrageous self-payments caught broad attention. Ultimately, it did not appear to significantly affect his bottom line, as total contributions dipped only slightly in 2014 from the prior year.

It would seem Weinstein’s supporters don’t mind making tax-deductible donations to a charity whose single greatest expense is its founder’s paycheck. That’s particularly potent when one tries to figure out what the MRFF actually does.

So what did Mikey Weinstein do in 2014 to earn $244,232?

According to his own press release summarizing the highlights of his year, Weinstein made 7 phone calls or emails and was invited to provide testimony to Congress.

In other words, Weinstein’s donors are paying him nearly a quarter million dollars a year to talk. Despite his repeated claims and incessant threats, Weinstein hasn’t filed a lawsuit in years, nor has he done anything else of actual substance. Weinstein’s donors are essentially paying him to issue press releases.

That’s not a bad gig, if you can get it. And apparently if you can’t get it, you can start your own charity and give it to yourself.

And that’s an important point: For Mikey Weinstein, besides his personal bigotry against Christians, this is about money. While Weinstein frequently highlights his time in the Air Force, White House, and in Ross Perot’s employ, he rarely mentions the long string of jobs he had — with varying success — during the ensuing years. Those include being the fundraising and marketing VP at Electrosource (which ended less than a year later with a “substantial” severance), the collection agency Find Dads, Inc., and very short stints at Link 1, Perceptre, and New York Technology Partners, among others. With some of those jobs lasting less than a year, Weinstein seems to have been on a continual job hunt — a hunt which may have ended when he founded the very lucrative charity he now runs, notwithstanding his more recent “work” with MIBON Consulting and Alpha Security.

It also remains notable that a substantial portion of Weinstein’s donations don’t come from the oppressed masses for which he claims to fight. Rather, other charities support his in an indirect, semi-circular donation trail.

The Community Foundation of North Louisiana contributed more than $56,000 in 2014. The Jewish Communal Fund donated $10,000 in their FY that ended in June of 2014 — and notably nothing in 2015. The Aspen Community Foundation donated another $39,000. The Rockefeller Fund paid an astounding $170,000 in 2013, though their 2014 contributions are unknown.

By contrast, Weinstein received just over $11,000 from Military Support Groups of America — the federation through which the MRFF gains access to the CFC, which collects funds from individual federal employees.

In the end, it’s a free country. People or organizations can contribute to Mikey Weinstein no matter how he uses the money they give him — whether to pad his lifestyle (he gave up his Viper for a Lotus in 2006) or attack the religious liberties of troops in combat, just because he doesn’t like their faith.

Fortunately, despite Weinstein’s pontifications, military religious freedom generally marches on. Where he tries to restrict liberty, other legitimate religious liberty groups — whose employees make far less as a percentage of their group’s income — stand ready to defend and protect the human rights Mikey Weinstein would attack.

Still, who knew attacking Christians in the military was so profitable?

MRFF Compensation to Mikey Weinstein:

2005: Formed
2006: $116,330
2007: $0
2008: $252,485
2009: $296,232
2010: $218,201
2011: $252,681
2012: $273,355
2013: $299,634
2014: $244,232
2015: Not yet reported.

Prior years discussions: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008.

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13 comments

  • Carmine Wiggins

    So who knew Christian TV was so profitable? Why TV preachers do; only they are taking millions from mostly poor people, living lavish lifestyles and giving absolutely NOTHING back, not even hope! I can give Mikey a pass over this ridiculous stuff!

    Creflo Dollar – Net worth: $27 million. Average annual income in his community: $29,640
    David Oyedepo – Net worth: Over $150 million. Average annual income in his community: $730
    Eddie Long – Net worth: $5 million. Average annual income in his community: $25,154
    Christian Oyakhilome – Net worth: Over $50 million. Average annual income in his community: $730
    T.D. Jakes – Net worth: $18 million. Average annual income in his community: $56,954.

    Kenneth Copeland – Net Worth $760 Million
    Pat Robertson – Net Worth $100 Million
    John Hagee, Beeny Hinn, Joyce Meyer also have millions in net worth, fancy cars, lavish housing and a lot of other things the average american only dreams of! But, as you say, free country.

    • @Carmine Wiggins

      Your position is a little hard to understand. You seem to be implying either:

        Mikey Weinstein’s pay is bad, but you’re ok with that, because these other ones are bad, too; or,
        Creflo Dollar, et al, have your support, therefore, Mikey Weinstein does, too.

      Either way, not the most well thought out argument.

      You’re also comparing net worth with a paycheck, which, in case you didn’t notice, isn’t the same thing.

      There are lots of “rich” people in the world, many of whom might claim to be “charitable.” (You won’t find a defender of those people here, by the way.) But you just demonstrated how easily you — and their donors — can find out about their finances, and then make an informed decision about whether or not to contribute.

      By contrast, with the exception of the Great Mikey Weinstein Pay Scandal coverage of 2014, the only other place you can find that information about the MRFF is right here.

      You’ve read it, and you’re ok with it. That’s fine. Other people have also learned of Mikey Weinstein’s financial practices here, and they’re not ok with it. That’s fine, too. At least now they know.

  • Rev. Bob Fritch

    @ Carmine Wiggins

    Yes, many Christians know about the lavish lifestyle that many prosperity gospel teachers have, but they are not the norm. The average church size America is under 100 people, and many of those pastors have to work another job besides being a pastor. The pastor of my church of 250 probably does not make any more than $50K per year with a wife and 3 kids and his wife does not work. Do you know that the president of the Salvation Army makes only about $75K per year. Mikey makes more money than a great portion of presidents of Christian charities today. The thing about Mike is that he has board except for himself. He votes for his own salary.

    Now let me also say that it is not just some Christian ministries that are pulling in a lot of money. Did you know that Rabbi Yael Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews pulls in over 1 million a year as his salary?! His organization does a lot for the poor in Israel, but he is very hostile towards Messianic Jews or Jewish followers of Jesus. So he is bilking tons of money from unsuspecting Christians and they think he is Messianic which he is not.

    I am a Charismatic Christian like many of the prosperity gospel people you mentioned above and you forgot to also mention Pastor Joel Osteen. Many Charismatics have denounced these preachers for their lifestyle, but let me point another thing out, Pastor John Hagee gives millions of dollars each year out of his ministry Christians United for Israel to Jewish organizations in Israel!

  • Carmine Wiggins

    You’re wonderful JD, but sorry, not everything is an argument and I get a chuckle how you always write back to people and say you don’t understand their position or what they say is not well thought out…really? Are you that vain? The interesting thing is many already do know about Mikey and the MRFF–AND…those TV preachers paychecks are more than double of Weinstein’s. Why throw Mikey under the bus for making money the way he sees fit (free country, capitalistic society, gullible people, etc). If Mikey gets contributions from gullible people then he can spend/pay whatever he sees fit to run his organization, no different than these so-called TV preachers of the gospel. While we may agree its a shame, we defend their right to do it regardless.

    I do not disagree with you Bob Fritch; and Hagee sending millions of dollars to Israel is a smack in the face to his congregation and the people of San Antonio. I would rather he donate to AMERICAN religious organizations than foreign ones, but its his money, or the churches, and they decide were to spend their money. Hagee goes further and orders his “board” never to tell him where to spend the churches money and “votes” for his paycheck as well. I’m also aware of Joel and many other “prosperity” gospel preachers that live high on the hog and people are finally beginning to see it and only a matter of time before they are all gone.

    Charities like UNICEF, Red Cross, United Way executives are also paid lavishly with many benefits ($500K to $1M). So, who knew running a charity would be so profitable?

    • @Carmine Wiggins

      Why throw Mikey under the bus for making money the way he sees fit…

      The details cited above are simple facts. If Weinstein ends up under the bus, he put himself there by virtue of his own choices.

      If Mikey gets contributions from gullible people…[he’s] no different than these so-called TV preachers of the gospel.

      Intentionally or not, you keep digressing to irrelevant comparisons. There are lots of people in the world who “steal” money from people. The nexus here is military religious freedom — and those that “beg” for money to defend or attack it. None of the people or organizations you have cited are relevant to this topic.

      Remember, Charity Navigator — a reputable, independent “charity watchdog” — had the same conclusions about Weinstein’s paycheck. And also remember that Mikey Weinstein has never disputed the facts cited here or in those articles. If those facts indict Weinstein, that’s on him.

      For the record, you’re the one who said Mikey Weinstein was no different than Creflo Dollar.

  • Rev. Bob Fritch

    @Carmine Wiggins

    Dear Carmine, I am sure that the money that John Hagee gives to Israeli organizations does not come out of the church budget but out of the contributions that he receives for his ministry “Christians United for Israel”, so those funds are earmarked for Israel, not his congregation. Besides, scripture says “to the Jew first then the Gentile.” as well as that if we bless Israel then God will bless us in whatever way that blessing comes about! Christians owe everything to the Jewish people and Israel. Christianity has it’s roots in Judaism and in the land of Israel, and scripture also says that our salvation as believers comes from Zion!

  • #BibleBelievingPreacher

    For being a very poor litigator, he sure does make a lot of money.

    If anyone wants to make it rich, just follow the steps of Weinstein:

    – Make legal threats if you cannot win in court
    – Talk tough while hiding behind a computer, but flee once someone contends with you
    – Boast about achievements once ill advised commanders give you what you want
    – Beg for support on social media to anti-God supporters who loathe Christians
    – Hide from debating Air Force Chaplain Sonny Hernandez

  • I’d like to add a few thoughts, from the perspective of someone who is a USAF Academy graduate (’85), a lifelong, active Christian, and a staunch supporter of the MRFF. I must say, I’m quite mystified as to why the issue of Mikey’s compensation keeps getting stuck in your craw.

    First, you are really off-base to suggest that a mid-$200K annual compensation level for someone with Mikey’s background, education, experience, and job responsibilities is unreasonable. Perhaps it is because your own professional experience is limited to active duty military that you don’t have a firmer grasp on compensation in other sectors. I can tell you with absolute assurance, based on 25 years as an executive in the private sector, a well-educated, experienced corporate attorney will earn well more than mid $200K.… and I’ve worked for companies as large as 60,000 employees worldwide and companies with fewer than 100 employees. So with all due respect, to argue that Mikey earns an exorbitant salary is uninformed and incorrect.

    Second, the vague implication that donations are somehow being improperly used is equally wrong. The MRFF is an advocacy group, and our chief advocate is Mikey Weinstein. We are not a supplier of goods and services. No one donates to the MRFF with an expectation that the funds are going to be passed along to some needy constituency. That manner of charity work certainly exists (think Wounded Warrior Project, Salvation Army, and many other groups) but it is fundamentally different from the mission and work of a group such as the MRFF. I’d argue that the MRFF is more akin to a group like First Liberty (where, if my information is correct, CEO Kelly Shackelford earns considerably more than Mikey).

    Bottom line – you don’t like Mikey, so you think he doesn’t properly earn his keep. I get that. And you don’t like the MRFF, because you think we are anti-Christian although we are anything but that. I get that, too. But your focus on this particular aspect of the organization is strange, and the criticism which you continue to level is unjustified and specious.

    • @Mike Challman,

      suggest that a mid-$200K annual compensation level…is unreasonable

      That’s a strawman. The actual “suggestion,” made not only here but by the Air Force Times in 2014, is that his pay is “exceptionally large” as a percentage of the donations received, even when compared to other non-profits — which are much larger than his.

      To wit, Kelly Shackelford reportedly received $350,000 in 2015 — for a group that had an income of $8.2M. That’s 4.3%, compared to Weinstein’s 35%.

      vague implication that donations are somehow being improperly used…

      Nothing above is either vague or implied. They are explicit facts. If those facts led you to believe donations are being improperly used, your issue is with the facts — which are determined by Mikey Weinstein.

      you don’t like Mikey [and] the MRFF…

      The Air Force Times loves Mikey Weinstein, and they still said the same thing. CharityNavigator neither likes nor dislikes the MRFF, yet they had similar criticisms.

      At some point, you need to acknowledge your bias. You believe so strongly in Weinstein’s mission that you’re willing to not only ignore his faults, but also recast those faults as virtues.

      You’re “in the know” at the MRFF. You know people have said they won’t support the MRFF financially — even if they support it in principle — because of the facts of Mikey Weinstein’s financial practices.

      It’s pretty immature to dismiss “criticism” by claiming it comes from ‘bad people who don’t like’ you. At some point you need to acknowledge the truth.

  • [redacted] –

    “Pretty immature” is a pretty ham-handed ad hominem attack, but perhaps unsurprising. As well, everything that I posted is true — you don’t get to dismiss it as a falsehood simply because it doesn’t align with your own POV.

    And putting something in quotes in your response, such as “bad people who don’t like you”, when it’s something that I’ve not said (to wit, whether or not I am calling you “bad people”) seems emblematic of your propensity to conclude what you believe others are thinking and then attempt to report it as something more objective that it is.

    I’ve no issue with acknowledging that my position has a particular slant (you can dismiss it as a “bias” but that, too, is editorializing on your part). Your position is no less slanted. We all arrive at conclusions based upon our interpretation of information. That you and I are at loggerheads on this matter cannot be so easily reconciled by your dismissiveness of my position.

    The core issue, in my view, is simply whether the salary paid to Mikey Weinstein is appropriate for the qualifications and credentials he brings to the role, for the work that he performs, and for the value of his effort. I believe this to be the case. None of the sources which you have cited have concluded that it is not the case… or said another way, none of the sources have concluded that Mikey is overpaid. You clearly wish that to be the conclusion of your argument, but you’ve not made that case.

    • @Mike Challman

      ham-handed ad hominem

      It was not intended as a personal attack, but as an attempt to characterize a position. Perhaps you can help: What’s the word for a group that refuses to listen to criticism, claiming instead that everyone who provides negative feedback just doesn’t really understand/like them?

      everything that I posted is true

      Who said it wasn’t?

      putting something in quotes in your response

      It wasn’t a quotation, thus the lack of double quotation marks, in keeping with common practice (if not the Queen’s English). Perhaps your device rendered it differently.

      none of the sources have concluded that Mikey is overpaid.

      They said this:

      His compensation for running MRFF is also exceptionally large compared with top salaries at most nonprofits

      Weinstein [took] a percentage of his group’s receipts that is unheard of in the military community

      Weinstein’s compensation is well more than double the typical compensation for nonprofit CEOs

      I would definitely say [Weinstein’s] compensation is very high

      And that was just one article. You’re free to characterize those statements however you choose, of course, but their conclusions seem to be pretty clear.

      Like Carmine Wiggins above and Mikey Weinstein himself, you haven’t disputed the accuracy of the facts. That those facts are unflattering does not change the fact they’re true.

      If you’re ok with how he spends the money you contribute, more power to you. Not everyone agrees with you, and the facts are here for them to see.

  • #Biblebelievingpreacher

    Mike Challman,

    How do you call yourself a Christian and support the MRFF? Please tell me where in Scripture do you see any apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, or any devoted follower of Christ support anything that suppresses the truth (Christianity). You should read Matthew 12:30, as see that Christ said: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” If you support the MRFF, then I would caution you to examine yourself with Scripture (2 Cor 13:5) to ensure you are not deceiving yourself, because clearly you are deceived that the MRFF is not anti-Christian.

  • Carmine Wiggins

    Thank you JD for hosting this interesting debate on Mikey’s compensation over the years. In the end I think it will be up to the supporters of MRFF, CFC contributions etc that will determine its fate in the long term. :-|

    The truth is in the eye of the beholder

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