An article published today by the Associated Press revealed that from 2008-2017, charities funneled $65 million to Trump’s lawyer and Christian radio and TV host, Jay Sekulow, his family, and corporations they own.
The article reveals a convoluted “web of organizations”–both for-profit and non-profit–“that seem to exist to pay compensation to Sekulow and his family members.” For example, the American Center for Law and Justice(ACLJ)—a Sekulow non-profit—paid $37 million over a 10-year period to the CLA Group, Sekulow’s for-profit law firm. Yet according to the AP, this law firm seemingly has no office or support staff, but simply rents a $80-a-month mailbox.
But there appear to be other phantom organizations within the Sekulow for-profit and non-profit web. One of Sekulow’s charities, the Law & Justice Institute, reportedly has only one activity—making annual payments to two for-profit companies.
Sekulow’s charities also seem to be run almost exclusively by family members. A non-profit founded by Sekulow called Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (CASE) has six board members. Every board member shares the last name Sekulow, including Jay’s wife, Pam, and their sons, Jordon and Logan.
The bulk of ACLJ’s annual $23 million budget comes from CASE. And over the 10-year period examined by AP, CASE paid more than $12 million in direct salary and benefits to Sekulow and his family members.
The article also raises questions about whether Sekulow’s charitable activities and partisan activities are intertwined, something that’s prohibited by IRS rules. Six ACLJ lawyers are named in recent Senate legal briefs as members of Trump’s defense team.
These unorthodox practices have caught the attention of both government and watchdog organizations. The American Institute of Philanthropy has issued a “Donor Alert” about ACLJ on its CharityWatch website. Also, Josh Stein, a North Carolina Attorney General who’s a Democrat, is investigating the potential abuse of charitable funds raised by the organizations tied to Sekulow.
To read the full AP article, click here.
UPDATE: I researched ACLJ on Charity Navigator, a well-respected charity watchdog group with an objective rating system. Below is ACLJ’s rating, but to read Charity Watch’s complete report, click here.