During the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, we’ve all seen a lot of Jay Sekulow, a member of the president’s legal defense team.
And yet it’s very likely that you know very little about Sekulow, who serves as the chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which was founded by televangelist Pat Robertson and subscribes to an extreme far right Christian fundamentalist view of the world and legal jurisprudence, including calling for taxpayer funding of religion and trying to mandate that Christianity is taught in public schools as if it’s proven fact.
But it turns out that Sekulow — much like his most famous client, the president — is also fond of feathering his own nest, participating in all sorts of questionable financial practices that reek of fraud and grift.
As The Guardian first noted in an article it published about Sekulow, most of the attorney’s efforts have been on his own behalf and focused on enriching himself and members of his family. Here’s just a few of highlights from The Guardian’s informative reporting, which blew the whistle on Sekulow’s non-profit, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (CASE):
“For years, the nonprofits have made a notable amount of payments to Sekulow and his family, which were first reported by Law.com. Since 2000, a law firm co-owned by Sekulow, the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group, has been paid more than $25m by the nonprofits for legal services. During the same period, Sekulow’s company Regency Productions, which produces his talk radio show, was paid $11.3m for production services.”
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Sekulow and his questionable way of steering “contributions” into his own bank accounts and those of the people closest to him:
- Sekulow received compensation exceeding $3 million from the nonprofits. His wife Pam received more than $1 million for serving as treasurer and secretary of CASE.
- Sekulow’s brother Gary serves as chief operating officer of both the ACLJ and CASE. He has been paid more than $9 million in salary since 2000. In a filing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Gary Sekulow claimed that he works 40 hours per week for each group.
- Jay Sekulow’s two sons and Gary Sekulow’s daughter have also done work for the ACLJ and CASE, earning nearly $2 million since 2000.
All of those payments are highly unusual and unethical, according to Arthur Rieman, an expert on nonprofit law, who noted:
“I can’t imagine this situation being acceptable. That kind of money is practically unheard of in the nonprofit world, and these kinds of transactions I could never justify.”
So why exactly did Donald Trump add Jay Sekulow to his legal team? Probably because he’s just as ethically-challenged as the impeached president.