Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice, Roy Moore, speaks to the congregation of Kimberly Church of God, June 28, 2015, in Kimberley, Ala.
Photo by Butch Dill/AP

Alabama’s Roy Moore can’t escape his controversial past

Alabama’s Roy Moore yesterday endorsed Donald Trump’s culture-war crusade against athletes who engage in civil-rights protests before games, but the Republican Senate hopeful did so in a remarkable way. In a written statement, Moore argued, “Kneeling during our national anthem not only demonstrates a lack of patriotism for our Country but a disrespect for the rule of law.”

For the record, Moore was twice removed from the bench for ethics violations, stemming from his belief that he can defy court rulings he doesn’t like. If there’s literally anyone in American politics who should avoid discussing the value of “the rule of law,” it’s Roy Moore.

Oddly enough, this wasn’t the most embarrassing development yesterday for the GOP candidate. Rather, that news came from the Washington Post.

Former Alabama judge Roy Moore, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, once said publicly that he did not take a “regular salary” from the small charity he founded to promote Christian values because he did not want to be a financial burden.

But privately, Moore had arranged to receive a salary of $180,000 a year for part-time work at the Foundation for Moral Law, internal charity documents show. He 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.

When the charity couldn’t afford the full amount, Moore in 2012 was given a promissory note for backpay eventually worth $540,000 or an equal stake of the charity’s most valuable asset, a historic building in Montgomery, Ala., mortgage records show. He holds that note even now, a charity official said.

To state the obvious, this paints an unflattering picture of the extremist Republican, not only because he appears to have made misleading claims about his compensation at the Foundation for Moral Law, but also because there are legal questions about the organization’s tax filings.

Indeed, the Washington Post’s article referenced “errors and gaps in the group’s federal tax filings,” which had been “obscured until now.” The article added, “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.”

And given the available information, it sure looks like Moore and his family – his wife and kids are paid employees – used that charity for their enrichment. Indeed, the Post’s report added that the group, among other things, paid Moore’s travel expenses, promoted his book and public appearances, and even hired a bodyguard.

The story is starting to get some pickup locally, with the Alabama Media Group’s Kyle Whitmire writing a column today describing Moore as “a man of principal, not principle.”

The special election in Alabama is two months from today.

Postscript: It’s worth noting that the details behind story aren’t entirely new. In early August, the Senate Leadership Fund, the Senate Republican leadership’s super PAC, launched an attack ad that referenced many of these same details.

As of this morning, the attack ad is still available online, despite Moore’s success winning the Republican primary.

Alabama

Alabama's Roy Moore can't escape his controversial past