MRFF Operates in the Red, Takes Government Money, but Mikey Weinstein Profits

For the first time since he first reported a donation in 2006, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation — the “charity” he started, operates, and for which he is the sole paid employee — spent more than it brought in, according to its IRS filings for 2015 (the most recent available).

In 2015, Weinstein brought in $668,000, which is nearly $30,000 less than the prior year (and marks the second year of declines). The MRFF’s expenses totaled $677,000, putting Weinstein on the red side of the ledger.

Of course, that’s somewhat academic when you’re running your own charity. For one thing, the MRFF is sitting on a rainy day cash pile of more than $200,000. (This year represents the first time that account showed withdrawal.) Also, all Weinstein had to do was reduce his own pay by $9,000 — a number he reportedly votes on — and he could have been operating in the black, if he’d chosen to.

Instead, Mikey Weinstein gave himself a raise, from $244,000 in 2014 to $264,000 in 2015.  Put another way, about 40% of the MRFF’s donations go directly to Mikey Weinstein’s salary.

That said, it’s long been known that Mikey Weinstein likely has other “compensation” from his charity besides the more than quarter million dollar salary he receives, putting his direct and indirect “benefits” well above 40%.  For example, his charity pays an enormous phone bill — and it seems likely the talkative Weinstein’s iPhone is included. It also pays for travel — not just for him, but also for family. What precisely all that money goes to is somewhat unclear, as Weinstein — naturally — is not terribly forthcoming.

This year, though, represents the first time Weinstein has declared the MRFF pays for office space.

The reason that’s notable is the MRFF’s office is in Mikey Weinstein’s house. (The MRFF mailing address is a UPS Store mailbox.)

In 2015, the MRFF acknowledged in its compensation information for its “officers” — Mikey Weinstein is the only one paid — that it made “payments for business use of personal residence.” To that end, it seems the MRFF paid $16,300 for expenses like rent, utilities, etc. — expenses it had never paid in any prior year.

It would seem that donors to the MRFF are not only paying Mikey Weinstein $264,000 in salary, but also paying him rent to the tune of nearly $1,400 a month.

Besides a salary and potential “rent,” how else is Mikey Weinstein benefitting from his own charity? Good question — because his charity’s expenses remain relatively obtuse. As an example of how the public reporting requirements are vaguely fulfilled, recall that a few years ago it was noted the MRFF spends more than $30,000 a year on undefined “research.”

We now know, though, that was Chris Rodda‘s pay in her role as a contractor for the MRFF.  (Chris Rodda is apparently not an employee, which presumably helped Weinstein avoid giving Rodda benefits like health insurance, etc.  Keep a quarter million for yourself, give your “friend” $30K and no benefits?  Classy, Mikey.  That box of chocolates probably made up for it.)

Similarly, there are several other large expenses that are likely what the rest of us would call “salaries” buried in other line items. For example, Weinstein paid $26,000 for “accounting,” $43,000 for “support,” and $37,000 for “security.” Despite having only one employee (himself) and lauding the fact he is an all-volunteer organization, the records seem to indicate he pays approximately 15 people for various reasons — but Weinstein doesn’t say who they are or why they’re receiving MRFF funds.

The most intriguing, though, remains the yearly large expense described only as “Consulting,” which this year ballooned to $126,000, the second largest expense behind Weinstein’s paycheck.  That’s the most he’s spent on “consulting” since 2007 — a year in which he, coincidentally, didn’t take a salary.

Given that Mikey Weinstein is an egotistical one-man band — who pays his “senior research director” only $30,000 a year — to whom do you think he’d stoop to paying $126,000 for “advice”? It’s an interesting question, and one Weinstein cleverly obscures. He has previously said the consulting was for grant-writing and public relations — two things already listed as separate line items elsewhere.  (Despite claiming he works 105 hours a week, Weinstein also manages to perform consulting while paying for consulting.)

The final revelation for Mikey Weinstein in 2015 was the MRFF submitted to an audit.  Why? Apparently, Weinstein had to be audited because he received — also for the first time — money from the federal government. Weinstein hasn’t revealed the form of that government money, nor did he separate it from the support he received from donors — but federal money is public information…

Since he founded his “charity,” Mikey Weinstein has now paid himself — just in salary — over $2.2 million.

Presumably, if Mikey Weinstein is taking federal money, you’ve helped pay him, too.

And for that massive salary, house payment, travel allowance, etc., etc., what did Mikey Weinstein do for military religious freedom in 2015?

That’s ok. No one else remembers, either.

Note: In 2015, Weinstein continued to receive substantial “donations” from other charities, well into six figures, from groups including the Community Foundation of North Louisiana ($60,000), The Aspen Community Foundation ($30,000), the Jewish Communal Fund ($10,000), and the Santa Fe Community Foundation ($24,400).  The amounts known to come from individual donors total only a few thousand dollars through the CFC and online donations.

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: $264,492
2016: Not yet reported.
2017: Not yet reported.

Total: $2,217,642

Prior years discussions: 20142013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008.

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