Well, “National Wreaths Across America Day” has come and gone for this year. On Saturday, December 18, the so-called non-profit Wreaths Across America and its thousands of volunteer cemetery wreath layers laid millions of Worcester Wreath Company Christmas wreaths on the graves of veterans buried in our country’s national cemeteries and other cemeteries across the land.
In my last two posts, I’ve written about two issues raised by Wreaths Across America and its indiscriminate blanketing of cemeteries with its Christmas wreaths.
The first, as I explained in my post titled “Wreaths Across America: Forcing veterans who didn’t celebrate Xmas in life to celebrate it in death,” is the issue that brings a slew of deceased veterans’ family members to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) each year — the fact that these Christmas wreaths often get placed on the graves of Jewish and other non-Christian veterans, Christianizing these non-Christian veterans’ graves in the organization’s zeal to lay wreaths on EVERY grave.
The second, as I detailed in my next post, titled “So-called “non-profit” claims its Xmas wreaths aren’t Xmas wreaths – but sells them as Xmas wreaths,” is that the “non-profit” Wreaths Across America was created the owners of a Christmas wreath company and buys all of those millions of Christmas wreaths from its own for-profit wreath company. As I wrote in that post:
Wreaths Across America was created by Morrill Worcester, the owner of the Worcester Wreath Co., and Morrill Worcester’s wife, Karen Worcester, is the executive director of Wreaths Across America!
In other words, the Worcester’s for-profit Christmas wreath company created a non-profit organization that has a need for millions of Christmas wreaths every year, then their non-profit gave the contract for these millions of Christmas wreaths to none other than their own for-profit company.
So, how much money are we talking about here? Well, according to their latest available tax return, the Worcester’s non-profit Wreaths Across America took in nearly $25 million in donations in 2019 and then paid nearly $17 million of that to their for-profit wreath company to produce the wreaths.
Not unexpectedly, Fox News was among the right-wing news outlets to jump all over MRFF for its criticism of Wreaths Across America’s practice of “carpet-bombing,” as MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein put it, our national cemeteries with its Christmas wreaths by placing a wreath on every grave, whether the veterans’ families want them to or not.
In another article and TV segment, Fox News addressed the issue of Wreaths Across America’s giving all of its very lucrative wreath contracts to its own for-profit wreath company, and did so by getting the vice president of Charity Navigator to defend Wreaths Across America’s practice of giving multi-million dollar contracts to its own for-profit company by questioning Mikey Weinstein’s salary. From the Fox News article:
Matt Viola, vice president at Charity Navigator, an organization that evaluates nonprofits, told Fox News that Wreaths Across America’s financial practices appear to be above board.
"It has come up before that the wreathes themselves are purchased from a related entity," he said. "This is disclosed properly on the 990 [tax form], and assuming they are paying fair market value for the wreaths (similar to other vendors) and have done that due diligence, they are doing nothing illegal or against IRS regulations."
Viola also reviewed the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s finances. According to its 2020 IRS filings, Weinstein received a salary of $314,000 even, and the organization reported under $700,000 in total revenue. Those same documents also showed that Weinstein reported working 105 hours per week, which amounts to 15 hours a day, seven days a week.
"The 105 hours worked for Michael Weinstein is a bit odd," Viola told Fox News. "I don’t think I ever saw a number that high."
"If we ignore the 105 hours per week workload, that is higher than what we normally see," he added. "We do see six-figure compensation for our $1mil or more star-rated charities, but its low six figures. So for a charity under $1mil, this appears to be high."
But Fox News’s link to Charity Navigator didn’t go to Charity Navigator’s page rating Wreaths Across America, or to its page rating MRFF, and the reason for that seems quite obvious …
Charity Navigator gave Wreaths Across America a FAILING GRADE of 65% on its finances and accountability!!!
And who did Charity Navigator give a 100% passing “GIVE WITH CONFIDENCE” grade to on its finances and accountability? You guessed it … MRFF!!!
That’s right, Fox News got Matt Viola, vice president of Charity Navigator, to say the exact opposite of what his own organization has determined about Wreaths Across America and MRFF. I think Mr. Viola, Charity Navigator, and Fox News some ’splainin’ to do!
And, just for the record, Mikey Weinstein really does work 105 hours a week. As his research director for over 14 years, I can attest to that. The man starts calling me at 9 a.m. in the morning (which is 7 a.m. his time) and is still calling me at 10 or 11 p.m. at night because he’s still working. And he doesn’t take weekends off, as I know because his calls don’t stop on the weekends. Thousands of service member and veteran MRFF clients who have gotten their calls and emails personally answered by Mikey at night and on weekends could also attest to this.