Stars and Stripes: During the past decade, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) founder and president Mikey Weinstein has been a vocal advocate for the separation of church and state in the military.
But according to an Air Force Times examination of MRFF tax filings, what Weinstein pays himself for running MRFF is well more than the typical top salaries at most nonprofits, military-related or otherwise.
In 2012, Weinstein received total compensation worth $273,355 — about 47 percent of all money MRFF raised through contributions and grants that year, according to IRS filings accessed on the nonprofit transparency website GuideStar.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), for example, paid its founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff $145,000 in 2012, or a little more than 2 percent of the $6.1 million IAVA raised that year. Wounded Warrior Project CEO Steven Nardizzi received $311,538 in 2012, or 0.2 percent of the nearly $155 million that charity raised that year. Nardizzi was paid more than Weinstein in actual dollars, but Wounded Warrior Project’s revenues far exceed the $584,351 MRFF brought in during 2012.
Weinstein’s compensation is more than double the average compensation for nonprofit CEOs, the Times reported, noting that the charity CEOs nationwide received a median $125,942 in compensation in 2011, citing the most recent study by the watchdog group Charity Navigator.
Small charities CEOs typically earned $95,661, the Times wrote, again citing Charity Navigator, which also said that MRFF falls below the budget threshold Charity Navigator uses for small nonprofits.
Weinstein votes on his own salary as part of a three-member board that is smaller than the five-member board Charity Navigator recommends for nonprofits. And MRFF counts him — a paid employee — as an independent voting board member, an apparent violation of IRS rules.
In interviews with Air Force Times, Weinstein — the only compensated employee at MRFF — strongly defended his compensation.
“I handle a lot of different hats here,” Weinstein said. “I handle all development and do all the fundraising. My wife’s a full-time volunteer and has the term development director, but I’m the one that does it. I handle all of the clients’ care and intake, and all of the interface with the clients. I handle all of the stuff with the press. It ends up being about a 15-hour-a-day workweek, seven days a week. It’s a tremendous amount of time and effort, and we feel it’s perfectly appropriate.”