According to new reporting by the Washington Post, twice-disgraced Alabama judge Roy Moore has received far more compensation from his Foundation for Moral Law than it has disclosed to the IRS or the public.
Moore has repeatedly minimized or denied receiving a “regular salary” from the Foundation. But a review of internal documents shows that Moore “collected 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.”
The Foundation secretly agreed to pay Moore $180,000 annually when he established it in 2003. But “when the charity couldn’t afford the full amount, Moore in 2012 was given a promissory note for back pay eventually worth $540,000 or an equal stake of the charity’s most valuable asset, a historic building in Montgomery, Ala.,” according to mortgage records.
“He holds that note even now,” an unnamed Foundation official tells WaPo reporters.
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.”
The Foundation also employed Moore’s family members with generous salaries, including his wife, daughter, and son Caleb, who was arrested for the ninth time yesterday. Moore campaign chairman Bill Armistead, who was FML’s executive director for many years, called the criminal trespassing charge “a cheap political trick.” No doubt he will defend the campaign against this story in the same way.
But Washington Post reporters Shawn Boburg and Robert O’Harrow Jr. spoke to seven charity and tax law experts who say that the evidence points to possible violations of IRS rules against officers using charities as personal profit centers.
Indeed, the Foundation began life as a legal defense fund for Moore the first time he was removed from office, causing the IRS to reject their nonprofit application in 2004.
Finally approved for 501(c)(3) status in 2005, the Foundation gave Moore a spotlight to promote his books and speaking gigs across the country. It even provided him with a bodyguard. That was in addition to its unusual financial arrangement with Moore:
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. But 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.
Making this all the more odd, the Foundation’s tax documents list Moore as a legal adviser, which even his wife admits is incorrect. Little wonder that the IRS has identified issues that once again threaten the Foundation’s charitable status.
Moore was already beset by allegations of corruption in his bid for the US Senate, but they had little effect because Moore’s primary opponent Luther Strange carried his own baggage from the ethics scandal surrounding Gov. Robert Bentley.
So far, no such scandal has attached to Democrat Doug Jones, Moore’s opponent in the December 12 special election.
Who could have predicted that a man twice removed from the bench for flouting federal courts might also bend IRS rules until they break?
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