Jay Sekulow, 61, an ally of conservative televangelist Pat Robertson, has made a name for himself as a lawyer who fights for what evangelicals view as worthy political goals.
Now, the man who has joined President Donald Trump's legal team is being accused of being a callous, money-thirsty monster after documents revealed that his organization pushed the poor and unemployed to donate money that was then steered directly to him and his family.
Sekulow serves as the president of Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (Case) and chief counsel of its sister organization, the American Center for Legal Justice (ACLJ).
According to The Guardian, Sekulow approved plans used by Case telemarketers that urged individuals who claimed to be poor or unemployed to dig deep for a “sacrificial gift.” Retirees who told callers they were on a fixed income and had no extra expandable cash were also told to spare “even $20 within the next three weeks.”
Using these methods, the organization has been able to steer $60 million to Sekulow and his wife, sons, brother, sister-in-law, and even nieces and nephews as well as their firms. Some of the money going into Sekulow's pockets is also used for what The Guardian calls unusual property deals that benefited the family.
But what makes these transactions even shadier is the fact that most of the fundraisers are carried out under ACLJ's name, not Case. As a result, information on Case payments made to the Sekulows is only accessible if you look at Case's annual filings to the IRS. When donors look at ACLJ filings to keep an eye on how their money is being spent, they aren't getting any information as to where the millions being steered to the family are actually going.
On top of those odd deals between Case, ACLJ, and the Sekulows, Sekulow's brother, Gary, has stated to the IRS that he works 40 hours per week for both of the nonprofits and yet, he has failed to specify if he spends any of these hours doing work for “related organizations,” an IRS requirement.
If all of this isn't enough to cause outrage, Sekulow's wife, Kim Sekulow, has received $6.2 million for "media production services" from Case since 2000, which included the lease of a private jet that was owned jointly by Case and Sekulow's company, Regency Productions.
It seems the millions the nonprofit makes partially by squeezing the poor out of a few bucks every month isn't necessarily going toward pushing political actions these donors would necessarily agree with, as the Sekulow family appears to be making use of much of this cash for their own benefit.
With Sekulow serving as Trump's attorney, this news could certainly damage the president's reputation even further.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Flickr user Gage Skidmore.