WaPo: Roy Moore’s ‘Moral Law’ Charity Privately Guaranteed $180k Yearly Salary

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, rides in on a horse named "Sassy" to vote a the Gallant Volunteer Fire Department, during the Alabama Senate race, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, in Gallant, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore was privately guaranteed a yearly salary of $180,000 from a charity he started, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Moore became president of the group, Foundation for Moral Law, in 2007, after having used it as a platform “to advance himself on any possible front, whether it was political or oratorical,” one University of Alabama professor emeritus of political science told the Post.

TPM recently reported on one significant donor to Moore’s group during that time: The Confederate sympathizer Michael Anthony Peroutka, who, mostly via donations from his wife’s Elizabeth Stroub Peroutka Foundation, gave $249,000 from 2006 through 2014 to Foundation for Moral Law.

Foundation for Moral Law received tax exempt status only after another group, the Roy Moore Legal Defense Fund, was rejected for that classification in 2004. In 2003, Moore was removed from office for refusing to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments he had installed at the courthouse, defying a federal judge’s order. That act of defiance launched the career of a nationwide conservative celebrity.

Meanwhile, Moore collected more than $1 million from Foundation for Moral Law between 2007 and 2012, when he was again elected as Alabama’s chief justice, the Post reported based on internal and IRS documents.

The salary was taken in part from speaking fees and donations to “Project Jeremiah,” an outreach program to pastors and preachers, the Post reported. When those funds didn’t reach the $180,000 mark, the charity paid Moore out of its own coffers, according to the Post.

For those years when there wasn’t enough cash on hand to pay Moore his promised salary, the Post reported, Foundation for Moral Law gave Moore a promissory note backed by a second mortgage on its building: For $393,000 in 2011, at first. In December of that year, the sum was increased to $498,000, and then to $540,000 in 2012. The Post reported the sums from the group’s mortgage documents.

The man who oversaw the debt to Moore, Alabama Circuit Court Judge John Bentley — the former chairman of the group’s board and still a member of it — stumbled when he tried to explain the differences between Moore’s publicly reported income and the amounts he had truly received over the years.

“That’s my fault,” he told the Post. “I should have been a lot more active than I was.”

He added: “I can understand why that would raise some concerns.”

The IRS in February concluded an audit of the Foundation for Moral Law’s 2013 records and said that the group “did not identify its special fundraising activities” and that its filings “did not reflect those recorded on your books of account,” the Post reported.

Read the Post’s full report here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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