SALT LAKE CITY — MormonLeaks released four sets of documents purportedly related to the operations of the LDS Church on Monday, two related to the living allowances provided to the faith's General Authorities.
The first set of documents posted on MormonLeaks, a website run by a former member of the LDS Church, includes what purports to be a "record of payroll or allowance" — similar to a pay stub — that reports how much money was provided to President Henry B. Eyring, then of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in a two-week period in 1999. The release includes seven two-week records for him in 2000.
On Monday night, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said the church will not confirm the authenticity of any "leaked" document.
"General Authorities leave their careers when they are called into full-time church service," said Eric Hawkins, spokesman for the church. "When they do so, they focus all of their time on serving the church, and are given a living allowance. The living allowance is uniform for all General Authorities. None of the funds for this living allowance come from the tithing of church members, but instead from proceeds of the church's financial investments."
President Eyring is now the first counselor in the First Presidency, the top governing body of the church. His Social Security Number is redacted from the allegedly leaked records.
The records report that the church provided about $90,000 to President Eyring in 2000. A second document posted on Monday, a letter from the faith's Presiding Bishopric to Elder Bruce D. Porter on Jan. 2, 2014, appears to be a memo stating that "the General Authority base living allowance has been increased from $116,400 to $120,000."
President Eyring's biweekly allowance was shown to be $2,192.31 for living expenses, $826.92 for parsonage (housing for an ecclesiastical leader) and $76.92 for a child allowance.
The other two reported leaks are minutes of an executive council meeting and minutes from a meeting of the Temple Facilities and Sites Committee.
Matthew Bowman, author of "The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith," said the amount of money the leaks appear to show is provided to General Authorities is unsurprising.
"The most relevant comparison might be the income of other clergy, and from my understanding, those totals are not dissimilar to what Protestant clergy make," said Bowman, a history professor at Henderson State University. "It doesn't strike me as anything even newsworthy. The question of newsworthiness isn't about the amount but whether they should be public at all."
MormonLeaks chief Ryan McKnight claims it is newsworthy and he makes no apology for posting the private, internal documents of the church.
"We take no position whether the amounts shown are positive or negative," he said. "To us, it's not really relevant."
In fact, he added, "The amount disclosed is on the bottom end of what I expected."
It is the second time McKnight has posted internal church material. On Oct. 2, MormonLeaks and McKnight released 15 videos of briefings held for senior LDS leaders between 2007 and 2012. The videos totaled seven-and-a-half hours and provided a snapshot of the breadth and depth of the contemporary as well as spiritual issues addressed by church leaders in regular meetings as they manage an international faith with 15.6 million members in more than 165 countries.
The church long has been transparent about providing living allowances to General Authorities, while not publishing specific amounts. Late church President Gordon B. Hinckley discussed them in a worldwide broadcast of the faith's October 1985 general conference.
"I should like to add, parenthetically for your information," he said, "that the living allowances given the General Authorities, which are very modest in comparison with executive compensation in industry and the professions, come from this business income and not from the tithing of the people."
McKnight said the term modest is subjective.
"That's not for me to decide," he said. "I'll let the viewers of this document decide if this is a modest stipend. I don't care how much they receive. It doesn't inherently reflect poorly on leaders of the church. It really applies only to the fact that it hasn't previously been disclosed."
McKnight said he does not believe that publishing President Eyring's records encourages others to steal records from the church and its leaders.
"Absolutely not," he said. "I did not seek these out. I didn't seek out anything like this."
Asked how he would feel if he learned that he was trafficking stolen documents, he said that isn't something he takes into consideration. He said his only ethical consideration is whether he believes the information should be public.
"I don't know how the person got them, and I don't care," he said. "That doesn't play into the decision. ... If they have broken a non-disclosure agreement or have broken the law to obtain the information to send to us, that is their problem, not mine. If we receive something we think should be part of the public record, we will publish it."129 comments on this story
McKnight said his position is that the living allowance of General Authorities, as agents of a non-profit religion, should be disclosed to the public.
Similar information was included in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, published in 1992.
"Because the church has no professional clergy, it is administered at every level through lay participation and leadership, and officials other than the General Authorities contribute their time and talents without remuneration. ...Because the General Authorities are obliged to leave their regular employment for full-time church service, they receive a modest living allowance provided from income on church investments."
Contributing: Scott Taylor