Roy Moore’s Senate campaign is claiming that a federal tax form, in which his nonprofit group apparently failed to disclose his wife’s income, is either fraudulent or manipulated.
The 2014 form filed by the Foundation for Moral Law (FML) says the Alabama conservative ex-chief justice’s wife, Kayla Moore, did not receive compensation from the group despite serving as its president. That is contradicted by a separate filing Roy Moore made to the Alabama Ethics Commission last year, in which he said that his wife earned $65,000 from FML.
Asked about the discrepancy, Brett Doster, a spokesman for the Moore Senate campaign, insisted that the publicly available filing “is a fabricated document.” The version that the FML filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Doster added, noted Kayla Moore’s income for the year, “so I do not know what [sic] the foundation’s version of the [form] has it zeroed out. It has somehow been changed.”
Doster did not provide a copy of the form as he says it was filed with the IRS. The Daily Beast put in a request with the IRS for their copy of the filing, but had not received it by press time. But versions of the tax filing posted on the websites of nonprofit research services Guidestar, the Foundation Center, and ProPublica all say Kayla Moore received no income from the group in 2014, as do versions filed by FML with regulators in North Carolina, New York, and California.
The discrepancy over Kayla Moore’s income listings is just one of several questionable disclosures made by the Moores and their nonprofit group that were flagged in a review of forms by The Daily Beast last week.
In addition to FML’s apparent lack of income disclosure, Moore failed to inform Senate ethics officials of between $50,000 and $150,000 in payments for speaking engagements last year. Moore noted that income in filings with the Alabama Ethics Commission, but two months later he told the Senate Ethics Committee that he had not received any payments in excess of $200 since last year "for an article, speech, or appearance."
Doster acknowledged Moore’s failure to disclose those payments, and indicated that Moore would belatedly inform the Senate Ethics Committee of the income. “Any perceived discrepancy in the reporting of honoraria on the form Judge Moore filed with the U.S. Senate will be corrected swiftly by the filing of an amendment,” he wrote.
Other apparent discrepancies between Moore’s state and federal ethics filings were fully above board, Doster said. Moore did not disclose between $150,000 and $250,000 in liabilities on his Senate ethics form because candidates, unlike sitting senators, are not required to note mortgages on their primary residences, Doster noted.
Doster did not provide clarification as to which speaking engagements provided Moore with the undisclosed payments. But he did tell an Alabama news outlet that reporting on that lack of disclosure amounted to a “misleading attack.”
Moore’s speeches, and the undisclosed income Moore derived from them, are now at the heart of an ethics complaint filed by the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center on Monday. The group wants the committee to examine whether Moore “failed to declare honoraria earned, liabilities owed, and compensation received on his financial disclosure statement, in violation of federal law and Senate rules.”
According to CLC, at least one of Moore’s paid speeches may have financed a legal defense fund he set up after being suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court last year. Senate ethics rules require disclosure of paid speeches even when the payments are granted to third-party organizations.
“Moore cannot claim that he was unaware of his income, assets, or liabilities, given that he filed a substantially similar report with the Alabama Ethics Commission just two months before filing the Senate report,” CLC concludes.
“What’s more,” the group added, “Moore is an attorney and was the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court until April of this year, so cannot claim that he was unable to grasp the basic legal responsibilities of filing a complete and accurate report.”