By Glynn Wilson –
WASHINGTON, D.C. — So it comes as no great surprise that Alabama’s infamous judge Roy Moore is a liar and a hypocrite who wears Christianity on his sleeve and then exploits donations from Christians and turns them to personal use.
The Washington Post is now reporting that Moore paid himself more than $1 million over six years from donations to his non-profit Foundation for Moral Law while he was publicly claiming that he did not take a “regular salary,” and that he lied about it in tax filings with the Internal Revenue Service.
Internal charity documents show that Moore was paid a salary of $180,000, collecting more than $1 million as president from 2007 to 2012, “compensation that far surpassed what the group disclosed in its public tax filings most of those years.”
Moore, who is well known to people in Alabama as the fiery religious right judge who has been removed from office twice from the state Supreme Court for failing to comply with federal court orders, is now the Republican nominee and front-runner in the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat held by Jeff Sessions until President Donald Trump appointed him as Attorney General.
“At a time when Moore was running for other public offices in Alabama, the charity kept him in the public eye and helped establish a nationwide network of donors while he took on controversial positions against same-sex marriage, Islam and the separation of church and state,” The Post reported. “Over the years, it has provided him with health-care benefits, travel expenses and a bodyguard, documents show.”
The charity also employed two of Moore’s children, including his daughter Heather, although their compensation is not reflected in tax filings, and his wife Kayla, now listed as president, who was also paid a total of $195,000 over three years through 2015.
An Internal Revenue Service audit of the Foundation for Moral Law’s 2013 finances, provided by the charity, concluded that it left out information about fundraising and other activities on its public tax filings and also identified discrepancies between those filings and its internal books. The IRS wrote that the issues “could jeopardize your exempt status.”
Seven charity and tax law specialists consulted by The Post said the nonprofit’s activities raised questions about compliance with IRS rules, including prohibitions on the use of a charity for the private benefit or enrichment of an individual.
“The biggest issue is the benefit to Roy Moore,” said Paul Streckfus, a former tax lawyer at the IRS and editor of the EO Tax Journal.
Political observers considered the nonprofit a showcase for the former judge.
“It was a platform for Roy Moore to advance himself on any possible front, whether it was political or oratorical,” said William Stewart, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Alabama and a longtime observer of Moore’s career.
With more than $1.5 million in donations in 2005 alone, the non-profit bought a pre-Civil War office building in downtown Montgomery for $546,000 and began renovations costing hundreds of thousands more.
The charity hired the Richard Norman Company, a fundraising firm in Virginia that raised money for conservative candidates. Months later, as Moore launched a campaign for Alabama governor, he turned to the firm for his political fundraising as well, drawing donors from across the country.
Moore would be paid whatever speaking fees and donations to the charity he could generate through what was called “Project Jeremiah,” the group’s ministry to pastors and preachers. He was guaranteed $180,000 a year under the agreement, with the charity making up the difference if Project Jeremiah revenue fell short. If the charity did not have the cash in a given year, the debt to Moore would accumulate.
The salary agreement and “Project Jeremiah” were not disclosed in the charity’s tax filings that year. Moore’s compensation was reported as $105,500.
The charity’s descriptions on public documents of its payments to Moore varied greatly. In some years, including 2007, he was described as an outside legal contractor, tax filings show, and in others he was paid as president. His reported compensation ranged from $55,392 to $105,500 — and not until 2012 did the figure match the $180,000 the board had agreed to pay him.
Martin Wishnatsky, a spokesman for the charity, said Moore was never a legal consultant, despite the statements in tax filings.
“Judge Moore never received separate amounts for ‘legal work,’” Wishnatsky said in a statement. “That description was a shorthand for the services he provided to the Foundation that included overall supervision, educational programs, and participation in preparing amicus briefs on religious liberty and related issues.”
While giving an opening statement on behalf of the charity in a legal dispute with a telemarketing company, Moore played down his financial arrangements.
“My salary does not come by way of a regular salary from the Foundation, but through a special project that I run so that I don’t inhibit the Foundation,” he told a jury in August, according to a transcript of the hearing in federal court in Ohio.
Moore’s full $180,000 compensation should have been disclosed each year, whether it was paid to him or accumulated as debt, said Marcus Owens, who led the tax-exempt organizations division at the IRS from 1990 to 1999.
“The treatment of the payments to him really is quite irregular,” Owens said.
Eve Borenstein, an expert on nonprofit tax law, said the annual tax filings, known as a Form 990, are the public’s only way to know how charities are spending donations and paying their employees each year.
“If people do not report what is intended to have sunlight on it, there’s no point in having the form,” she said.
In February 2017, the IRS concluded its audit of the charity’s 2013 finances and identified problems that it said could threaten the group’s tax-exempt status if not resolved.
The non-profit “did not identify its special fundraising activities,” according to the IRS, which also found that the group’s tax filings contained figures that “did not reflect those recorded on your books of account.”
In recent weeks, the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group in Washington, accused the charity of openly promoting Moore’s Senate campaign through a Facebook page titled “Foundation for Moral Law.” Charities are prohibited by law from supporting or opposing political candidates.
The question is, will the people of Alabama fall for Moore’s scam again and send him to Washington as a United States Senator? Or will enough mainstream, normal people, including Republicans and independents, turn out to vote instead for the Democrat in the race, Doug Jones, who by all accounts is an honest person who has a long history of respecting and upholding the law and would actually be qualified to serve as a legislator in Washington?
Watch and share our exclusive video interview with Wayne Flynt on the separation of church and state.
© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.