Saturday, March 3, 2018

The born-again "MyPillow" guy, Michael Lindell

Those things look rather lumpy to me
Perhaps Michael Lindell (of MyPillow infomercial fame) does some good work through his foundation. Lindell is a recovering crack addict and he wants to help others. Why then is it necessary for the guy to be dishonest?

Lindell was interviewed by Eric Metaxus at the NRB Media Leadership dinner. According to a piece on NRB's website:
Metaxas, host of the Eric Metaxas Show, told him, “This is raw. This is beautiful. God [worked on] your life while you were a wreck and was operating on you while you were still on crack.”

His foundation has become a reality. The Lindell Foundation takes care of the overhead and enables donors to give directly to meet specific needs.

“Imagine a hundred percent of your money goes to the need, and you pick your need, and you get to hear back the difference you’re making,” Lindell said of the foundation’s approach.
That is simply untrue. In 2015 the foundation took in $307,651. It donated $121,571. It did not complete its 990 correctly (and is too small for the IRS to take notice). It did not make the required statement of “Program Service Accomplishments” in Part III. Rather, it restated from Part I why it qualifies as a 501(c)3. If they did anything internally it is unstated.

The charity had employment expenses (salary and payroll taxes) of $68,000 and claimed to have no employees (go figure). Then there are some rather interesting expenses including $2,500 in advertising, $26,000 in IT while it claims on the same report not to have a website. It also claimed $12,000 in continuing education expense. The organization claims occupancy expense of about $400 per month but is also claiming over $12,000 of leasehold improvements. I suspect that Lindell is his own landlord.

All that aside, “a hundred percent” is not going to the need. That is an issue of fact.

As for MyPillow, it has had problems with regulators (including a $1 million settlement in California) and is the subject of at least two class action lawsuits. Among other things, Lindell had to promise to stop using the customer testimonial of Tom Clapp. Clapp just happens to be the executive director of the aforementioned foundation. Seems that Lindell didn't mention that in his commercials.

One of the class actions claims that the “buy-one-get-one-free” pitch is deceptive because Lindell doubled the price. In another class action, disgruntled buyers are complaining that the commercials use deceptive media logos - including the New York Times — implying an endorsement which is untrue.

Lindell is a pretty good pitchman. There is nothing very innovative about an expensive pillow filled with foam chunks. The artistry is in that down-home folksy pitch, complete with the Midwestern accent.

All of this deception is, of course, very Christian.

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