Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R) was promised $180,000 a year for his part-time work with a religious freedom charity, despite previously alleging he did not collect a “regular salary,” according to analyses of internal reports and tax records.
Moore, a former judge for the Alabama Supreme Court, served as president for the Foundation for Moral Law for six years. A review of charity documents by The Washington Post revealed that between 2007 and 2012 Moore was entitled to more than $1 million from the organization.
The charity was essentially created to financially serve Moore, who was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court in 2003, and his family.
“The group has filed scores of legal briefs in cases involving conservative Christian issues, but it was in many ways built around Moore himself,” the Post wrote.
The former judge was not the only member of the Moore clan on the charity’s payroll. His wife, Kayla Moore, who currently serves as the foundation’s president, was paid $195,000 over a three-year period, and at least two of the Moores’ children worked for the charity, although their salaries were not disclosed, according to the Post.
Moore claimed in 2011, “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.”
The “special project” Moore referred to is Project Jeremiah, a pastor and preacher ministry program that would compensate Moore through speaking engagements and donations. The charity promised to pay the difference if Project Jeremiah wasn’t enough to pay Moore’s six-figure salary.
Project Jeremiah did not generate the money owed to Moore, and while Moore’s tenure as president continued, the charity’s debt grew. Moore left the organization in 2012.
“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., mortgage records show,” according to the Post. “He holds that note even now, a charity official said.”
The charity did not fully disclose the actual amount of Moore’s compensation, according to the Post.
Marcus Owens, former head of the tax-exempt divisions of the IRS, told the Post that the organization should have been including Moore’s $180,000 salary in its tax returns each year. Owens called the way Moore was paid “quite irregular.”
Roy Moore was also removed from the Alabama Supreme Court — twice — for his extreme views and also called Islam a “fake religion."
The charity also came under fire during Moore’s campaign for Senate. A Facebook page called “Foundation for Moral Law” was accused of advocating for Moore’s candidacy for senate. Kayla Moore insisted to the Post that the Facebook page “is not an official page of the Foundation for Moral Law,” despite being able to access it directly from The Foundation for Moral Law site.
Also of concern is how the charity came to be. Moore drew a lot of attention when he put a Ten Commandments statue in the Supreme Court building not long after his election. A federal court demanded Moore remove the statue, but he refused.
According to the Post, the organization started out as the Roy Moore Legal Defense Fund and was created to support Moore’s battle to keep the monument in the courthouse. The IRS rejected the group’s first application for tax-exempt status. To circumvent this, it was then rebranded as the Foundation for Moral Law.
In 2003 Moore was ousted from the Alabama Supreme Court for his refusal to remove the statue. (He said he was penalized because he “acknowledged God,” CNN reported at the time.)
In addition to the Post’s analysis, a review conducted by the Associated Press also found that tax documents were inconsistent with the charity’s internal records.
According to the AP, John Bentley, a circuit judge and a member of the charity’s board who also served as chairman, said the $180,000 salary “was on par with what he was making as chief justice and … was comparable to directors at other legal nonprofits.” The Post’s review of the charity’s tax records show that Moore pledged to work 20 hours a week.
“He didn’t receive anything. A piece of paper. It’s worthless unless the first mortgage is paid,” Bentley told the AP. But the “piece of paper” also “included a notation that Moore was paid upon the availability of funds and that the unpaid salary would accrue until funds were available,” the AP noted.
Speaking with the Post, Bentley could not offer an explanation for the discrepancies between the charity’s records and its tax filings, “in part because he had devoted so little time to overseeing the group’s finances.”
“I can understand why that would raise some concerns,” Bentley told the publication.
The Alabama GOP senate nominee's Facebook page contained a meme, which stated: "Want to stop riots? Play the National Anthem. They'll all sit down."
Moore, who became known as the Ten Commandments Judge, was removed from the bench permanently last year when he demanded judges refuse marriage licenses to gay couples. Despite the Supreme Court’s nationwide ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015, Moore said the ruling did not necessarily apply to Alabama, citing “confusion and uncertainty.”
“I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to Alabama probate judges on the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court,” he wrote in a January 2016 order. “That issue remains before the entire Court which continues to deliberate on the matter.”
Moore has also pushed the birther movement, the conspiracy that former President Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen. He says in an undated video that is reportedly from December 2016, according to The Guardian and CNN, that his “personal belief” is that Obama was not born in the U.S.