WASHINGTON (AP) — Jay Sekulow, one among President Donald Trump’s lead attorneys in the course of the impeachment trial, is being paid for his authorized work via a rented $80-a-month mailbox a block away from the White Home.
The Pennsylvania Avenue field seems to be the only bodily location of the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group, a for-profit company co-owned by Sekulow. The agency has no web site and isn’t listed in nationwide authorized directories. The District of Columbia Bar has no document of it, and no attorneys checklist it as their employer.
However Sekulow, 63, is registered as chief counsel on the American Heart for Regulation and Justice, a non-profit Christian authorized advocacy group primarily based in an expansive Capitol Hill row home a brief stroll from the Senate chamber.
Together with Sekulow, a half dozen attorneys employed by the non-profit ACLJ are named in latest Senate authorized briefs as members of Trump’s protection workforce — together with one among Sekulow’s sons. The ACLJ, as a tax-exempt 501(c)(three) group, is barred below IRS guidelines from partaking in partisan political actions.
The Republican Nationwide Committee has paid greater than $250,000 to Sekulow’s for-profit CLA Group since 2017, when he was first named to Trump’s authorized workforce as particular counsel Robert Mueller was main the Russia investigation, based on marketing campaign disclosures.
Sekulow has been one among Trump’s most seen defenders, enduring as a trusted lawyer for the president whilst different of his attorneys have been sidelined or entangled in controversy.
President Donald Trump’s private lawyer Jay Sekulow speaks throughout Trump’s Senate impeachment trial on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2020.
Within the impeachment trial, he has sought to current Trump as unfairly hounded by investigations, seizing on surveillance errors the FBI acknowledged making within the Russia probe and accusing Democrats of investigating the president over Ukraine just because they couldn’t carry him down after the Mueller investigation.
Charity watchdogs for years have raised issues concerning the blurred strains between for-profit companies tied to Sekulow and the advanced net of non-profit entities he and his household management.
The Related Press reviewed 10 years of tax returns for the ACLJ and different charities tied to Sekulow, that are launched to the general public below federal legislation. The information from 2008 to 2017, the latest 12 months out there, present that greater than $65 million in charitable funds had been paid to Sekulow, his spouse, his sons, his brother, his sister-in-law, his nephew and firms they personal.
Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, mentioned Sekulow seems to be mixing his protection of Trump together with his charitable endeavors. The group has issued a “Donor Alert” about ACLJ on its CharityWatch web site.
“Charities usually are not presupposed to be taking sides in partisan political actions, akin to offering authorized companies to profit a politician in an impeachment trial,” Borochoff mentioned. “Regulators ought to examine whether or not or not charitable sources, akin to workplace, labor, tools, and so forth., are being wrongly utilized to profit Sekulow’s for-profit legislation agency.”
The tackle for CLA Group listed in latest courtroom filings matches Carr Workplaces, a flex-space supplier that rents out mini workplaces, particular person desks and convention rooms for durations as temporary as one hour. In response to its web site, the corporate additionally gives its clients “digital workplaces” that embody a mailbox and mail forwarding.
A receptionist on the Carr Workplaces workplace confirmed the legislation agency’s mail is delivered to a mail slot in a safe room earlier than being forwarded to a different location, which she declined to reveal.
A name to Carr final week asking to be linked to CLA Group was forwarded. After a number of rings, the decision was answered by a receptionist on the non-profit ACLJ.
Inquiries about Sekulow’s for-profit legislation agency had been referred to Gene Kapp, a Virginia public relations contractor paid via the charity.
“Jay Sekulow is serving as a member of the President’s authorized workforce in his private capability,” Kapp mentioned in an e-mail. “His work with the President is separate and distinct and isn’t linked together with his work as Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. The ACLJ’s work is separate and distinct from the authorized work being performed for the President.”
Kapp declined to say whether or not CLA Group has any help employees or whether or not Sekulow was doing his authorized work for Trump within the non-profit group’s workplace. Kapp would additionally not touch upon whether or not CLA Group was reimbursing ACLJ for any sources being utilized for Trump’s authorized protection.
President Donald Trump’s private lawyer Jay Sekulow (left) and his son Jordan Sekulow arrive on the Senate chamber because the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump continues on the U.S. Capitol on January 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.
A 2005 investigation by the publication Authorized Instances reported about questionable spending at ACLJ, quoting former staff describing thousands and thousands in charity funds being spent to help the Sekulows’ lavish way of life, which included a number of houses, golf junkets, chauffeur-driven automobiles and a personal jet used to ferry then-Supreme Court docket Justice Antonin Scalia. The Guardian and The Washington Put up reported extra particulars in 2017, shortly after Sekulow was named as Trump’s lawyer.
Over the 10-year-period examined by AP, the tax returns present practically $37 million in charitable funds had been paid by ACLJ to the CLA Group, the phantom legislation agency listed on courtroom filings as defending Trump.
Incorporation filings and tax information present Sekulow co-owns CLA Group together with his legislation college classmate and longtime enterprise associate Stuart J. Roth. Roth can be listed as senior counsel at ACLJ and named in latest authorized briefs as one among Trump’s protection attorneys.
North Carolina Lawyer Basic Josh Stein, a Democrat, is investigating the potential abuse of charitable funds raised by the organizations tied to Sekulow. Spokeswoman Laura Brewer mentioned it was unclear when that probe, begun in 2017, can be full.
Trump, Sekulow’s star consumer, has confronted related authorized questions. Trump agreed to pay $2 million as a part of a settlement with the state of New York by which he was pressured to confess he misused charitable funds from the Donald J. Trump Basis to advertise his 2016 presidential marketing campaign, repay enterprise money owed and purchase a $10,000 portrait of himself hung at one among his Florida resorts. Trump’s charity additionally minimize an unlawful $25,000 verify to help the reelection of then-Florida Lawyer Basic Pam Bondi, who now works with Sekulow as a member of the president’s protection workforce.
Jay Sekulow speaks to the press throughout a recess within the impeachment trial on the US Capitol on January 24, 2020 in Washington, DC.
A Brooklyn native, Sekulow graduated from Mercer Regulation College in Georgia and briefly labored for the Inside Income Service earlier than going into personal observe in Atlanta together with his former classmate Roth within the early 1980s. The pair specialised in shopping for and promoting historic properties as tax shelters, however the enterprise collapsed after disgruntled traders sued them over alleged fraud and securities violations. Court docket information present each Sekulow and Roth filed for Chapter 7 chapter in 1987.
Sekulow shortly remade himself as common counsel for the group Jews for Jesus. A self-described Messianic Jew, Sekulow gained a spiritual liberties case earlier than the U.S. Supreme Court docket after members of the group had been barred from passing out pamphlets on the Los Angeles Worldwide Airport.
The next 12 months, information present Sekulow based the non-profit Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (CASE), a charity “devoted to the best that spiritual freedom and freedom of speech are inalienable, god given rights.”
In 1992, he was named chief counsel on the ACLJ, which was based by televangelist Pat Robertson as a conservative counterweight to the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union. It’s affiliated with the legislation college at Regent College, the Christian faculty based by Robertson and positioned subsequent to the studios of his Christian Broadcasting Community in Virginia Seashore, Virginia.
Tax information present ACLJ now receives the majority of its $23 million annual funds from CASE. All six of the charity’s paid board members share the final identify Sekulow, together with Jay’s spouse, Pam, and their sons, Jordon and Logan.
That tight-knit household management runs afoul of requirements issued by a number of watchdog teams to assist stem the chance of self-dealing and graft.
The Higher Enterprise Bureau’s Sensible Giving Alliance recommends at the very least 5 impartial board members and never a couple of who receives direct monetary advantages. Bennett Weiner, who heads the BBB alliance, mentioned it issued an advisory about ACLJ after the group didn’t reply to requests for extra details about its funds.
The Evangelical Council for Monetary Accountability, based 40 years in the past by Billy Graham and different evangelical leaders to accredit Christian non-profits, requires impartial boards of administrators made up of individuals “not associated by blood or marriage to employees members.” CASE and ACLJ usually are not listed among the many council’s 2,400 members.
From left to proper, Eric Herschmann, White Home Counsel Pat Cipollone, and Jay Sekulow, all members of President Donald Trumps protection workforce, go away the U.S. Capitol after defending the President within the Senate impeachment trial on January 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.
As Sekulow has positioned himself amongst Trump’s chief defenders in each the courtroom and as a authorized analyst on Fox Information, CASE has continued to lift greater than $50 million yearly via an aggressive mixture of telemarketing and junk mail soliciting the conservative trustworthy to help ACLJ’s courtroom advocacy.
However tax information present a lot of that cash is routed to Sekulow and his household. Over the 10-year interval examined by AP, greater than $12 million was paid in direct wage and advantages to Sekulow and his relations.
Gary Sekulow, Jay’s 61-year-old brother, was paid a complete of $985,947 in wage and advantages in 2017 because the chief working and monetary officer at each ACLJ and CASE — two full-time positions that tax paperwork point out would require him to work 80 hours every week.
Adam Sekulow, Gary’s 31-year-old son, was paid $229,227 because the director of improvement at CASE and $65,052 because the director of main donors at ACLJ the identical 12 months.
Data present thousands and thousands extra every year going to for-profit firms managed by the household. Along with the $5.eight million ACLJ paid to CLA Group in 2017, $1.four million was paid to Regency Productions, an organization owned by Jay Sekulow that receives his charges for showing on the radio present “Jay Sekulow Reside!” and his tv present “ACLJ This Week with Jay Sekulow,” which airs on the identical Christian community as Pat Robertson’s “The 700 Membership.”
Over the 10-year interval reviewed by AP, CLA Group and Regency had been paid a mixed $46 million in charitable funds by ACLJ and CASE. Tens of millions extra had been paid by the charities for “airtime,” although the recipients of that cash weren’t detailed within the tax information.
Sekulow’s present is commonly recorded at a studio positioned on the Washington, D.C., headquarters of ACLJ. Tax information present the workplace constructing, with a present assessed worth of $three.eight million, is owned by CASE. The charity managed by the Sekulow household additionally owns the spacious four-bedroom, four-bath rowhouse subsequent door, which has a present assessed worth of $1.eight million.
This week, an AP photographer noticed Jay’s son Jordan Sekulow, 37, getting into the residence. A graduate of Regent legislation college, Jordan Sekulow is the chief director of ACLJ, a member of Trump’s protection workforce, and in addition hosts his father’s radio present. ACLJ’s web site and affiliated YouTube channel have been posting day by day updates concerning the impeachment trial, reiterating GOP arguments and hammering Democratic Home managers.
Jordan’s spouse, Anna Sekulow , 36, additionally works on the charity as a digital media adviser, based on its web site. The general public tax information don’t point out how a lot they’re paid.
About $6.eight million went to the corporate PFMS of Georgia for producing Sekulow’s exhibits. That firm’s web site lists Gary Sekulow’s spouse, Kimberly Sekulow , 60, as president and CEO. The tackle for that enterprise is in the identical suburban Atlanta constructing listed on tax returns because the workplaces for CASE, the charity that pays it.
Along with his two paid jobs on the non-profits, the couple’s son Adam Sekulow is listed because the acquisition supervisor at PFMS. His sister Jennifer Sekulow , 27, is the top of market analysis.
The information present at the very least $1.2 million was spent by the charities on personal jets, together with an uncommon association the place CASE was paying to lease a aircraft co-owned by the for-profit firms managed by Jay Sekulow and his sister-in-law.
The tax information present thousands and thousands extra had been routed into quite a few non-profit and for-profit entities, which makes it difficult to find out who is basically getting the cash.
For instance, ACLJ and CASE made funds to the Regulation & Justice Institute, a non-profit entity created by Sekulow and Roth. Tax information present that charity’s solely exercise was to make annual funds to 2 for-profit firms, Advocacy Providers Inc. and Academic Assets Associates.
Virginia incorporation information checklist “M.G. Robertson” of Virginia Seashore because the president and director of Advocacy Providers, which obtained $four million in funds. Marion Gordon Robertson , 89, is healthier identified to TV viewers by his nickname, Pat.
Jay Sekulow (left) speaks with Hogan Gidley, White Home Principal Deputy Press Secretary, in the course of the Senate impeachment trial towards President Donald Trump on the U.S. Capitol on January 24, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Incorporation filings for Training Assets Associates in Washington, D.C, checklist its CEO as John Ashcroft, who served as U.S. lawyer common within the administration of President George W. Bush. That firm received $2.2 million in consulting charges from the charitable Regulation & Justice Institute. Ashcroft , 77, is listed as a distinguished professor at Regent College and has appeared with Sekulow at ACLJ occasions.
Marc Owens, who served for 10 years because the director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the Inside Income Service, mentioned the construction of the charities and firms managed by the Sekulow household appeared designed to obscure simply who’s getting paid and the way a lot.
Federal legislation forbids charities from excessively benefiting those that have “substantial affect over the group.” Owens mentioned each the IRS and state attorneys common ought to examine.
“That is an obvious net of organizations that appear to exist to pay compensation to Sekulow and his relations,” mentioned Owens, who’s now in personal observe. “That sample clearly raises questions for these entities which can be tax-exempt below Part 501(c)(three) as to whether or not they’re working for a public profit or the personal advantage of Jay Sekulow and his relations.”
Sekulow’s spokesman denied any wrongdoing.
“The monetary preparations between ACLJ, CASE and different entities have been reviewed by outdoors impartial consultants and are in compliance with all tax legal guidelines,” Kapp mentioned.
Requested who these outdoors consultants are and whether or not AP might converse with them, Kapp responded that he didn’t have something so as to add.
Related Press reporter Ashraf Khalil contributed to this report.
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Join membership to turn out to be a founding member and assist form HuffPost’s subsequent chapter