MRFF Loses Money for Second Year — but Mikey Weinstein Still Gets a Raise
For the second year in a row, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation — the “charity” he started, operates, and for which he is the sole paid employee — continued to spend more than it brought in, according to its IRS filings for 2016 (the most recent available).
In 2016, Weinstein brought in $681,000, which is about $15,000 more than the prior year. The MRFF’s expenses ballooned to $715,000, putting Weinstein on the very 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 large cash pile, though it dipped below $200,000 just this year. Notably, too, the difference between the income and expenses is almost exactly equal to the raise Mikey Weinstein gave himself, from $275,000 in (total reported) compensation to $310,000.
While he could have trimmed his pay to operate within the budget, Mikey Weinstein gave himself a raise, from $264,000 in 2015 to $289,900 in 2016. Put another way, about 43% of the MRFF’s donations go directly to Mikey Weinstein’s salary — leading media scrutiny to say he was “cashing in” based on an “unheard of” salary from those donations.
With that said, it has long been known that Mikey Weinstein appears to have other forms of indirect “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. It pays for security, insurance, and a staggering $34,000 for “occupancy” — for an “organization” that is run out of Mikey Weinstein’s home office.
Absent other information, it would seem that donors to the MRFF are not only paying Mikey Weinstein $289,000 in salary, but also paying him rent to the tune of nearly $2,900 a month.
Not a bad gig if you can get it.
What precisely all that money goes to is somewhat unclear, as Weinstein — naturally — is not terribly forthcoming. For example, last year Weinstein reported $0 in “other” fees for services, but had $126,000 in “consulting.” (Despite claiming he works 105 hours a week, Weinstein also manages to perform consulting while paying for consulting.) This year, Weinstein reported $125,000 in “other” and had no line item for consulting. It almost seems to be a very obfuscated shell game.
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 opaque. 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.) The “research” expense for 2016 is up to nearly $45,000, though given Chris Rodda’s relative absence these past couple of years it is possible someone else is now being paid as the MRFF’s “senior research director.”
For the second year in a row, Mikey Weinstein submitted to an audit — because he received a “federal award.” Presumably, if Mikey Weinstein is taking federal money, you’ve helped pay him, too.
Financial documents also continue to indicate that large portions of Weinstein’s donations come not from individual donors but from other organizations. For example, a single source (the Santa Fe Community Foundation) contributed $24,000 in 2016, while all of the MRFF’s CFC income was less than $11,000.
Since he founded his “charity,” Mikey Weinstein has now paid himself — just in salary — over $2.5 million.
And for that massive salary, house payment, travel allowance, etc., etc., what did Mikey Weinstein do to benefit military religious freedom in 2016?
That’s ok. No one else remembers, either.
MRFF Compensation to Mikey Weinstein:
2017: Not yet reported.
2018: Not yet reported.