Poor Christians opened their wallets to a religious nonprofit run by Donald Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow. In turn, Sekulow hired one of his own teenage sons—straight out of a Nickelodeon internship—and named him a “director” of the charity, where the son subsequently earned nearly a million dollars.
Authorities in New York and North Carolina are investigating Sekulow’s charity, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, following reports that the nonprofit doled out millions to Sekulow and his immediate family. On Tuesday, The Guardian revealed that the so-called charity led an aggressive telemarketing campaign, asking impoverished Christians to “sacrifice” their money, or warning them that “Islamic extremists are headed in your direction, and you are most likely the main target.”
Over $886,000 of those donations from CASE and its related organizations was paid out to Logan Sekulow, Jay’s son, who was first named a CASE “director” when he was just 18.
The Sekulow family has full control of CASE, which raked in $229 million in donations from 2011 to 2015 alone, The Washington Post reported. CASE solicited donations through an aggressive phone campaign. A script for CASE telemarketers, obtained by The Guardian, instructed callers to pressure the poor for money. “Could you possibly make a small sacrificial gift of even $20 within the next three weeks?” the script instructed telemarketers to ask retirees, the unemployed, and other people who said they were too poor to give. The donations would go toward preserving “our traditional Christian values,” the script said.
But over $886,000 of those funds were paid to Logan Sekulow over 12 years in his function as a director, according to tax documents.
Logan, who did not return The Daily Beast’s email, voicemail, or Twitter messages, first appeared in CASE’s tax filings in 2004, when he was listed as a “director” of the nonprofit.
At the time Logan was just 18 years old and his professional experience consisted of an internship at Nickelodeon earlier that year, according to his LinkedIn page. He worked on the show Slime Time Live, he said in a blog post for his alma mater, Full Sail University. His curiously complete IMDB page, which notes his height to a half-inch, says he made an appearance on Slime Time Live as “Logan The Intern.”
In a statement to The Guardian, a Sekulow spokesperson said the nonprofit’s payouts were all legal.
“The financial arrangements between [sister nonprofit American Center for Law and Justice], Case and all related entities are regularly reviewed by outside independent compensation experts and have been determined to be reasonable,” spokesperson Gene Kapp said. “In addition, each entity has annual independent outside audits performed by certified public accounting firms. Further, the IRS has previously conducted audits of the ACLJ and Case and found them to be in full compliance of all applicable tax laws.”
Logan’s starting salary at CASE was a modest $21,475 in 2004, according to tax filings. That figure rose slightly in subsequent years—by 2007, he was making $54,849—before skyrocketing to $171,126 in compensation from CASE and its related organizations in 2008, filings show.
Logan’s exact duties in his father’s nonprofit are unclear. He is listed as an “executive producer” on a handful of documentaries produced by CASE’s sister company, the conservative ACLJ, which his father Jay Sekulow also heads. The films include The Export, a “powerful examination of radical Islam’s multifaceted attack on our freedoms” including “the proposed Ground Zero Mosque in New York City.”
But besides a LinkedIn item, which lists him as “Executive Producer / Producer / Director at ACLJ Films,” Logan’s public profile makes little mention of the nonprofit job that earned him nearly $1 million. Instead, his profiles show what he bought while working as a CASE director, including a now-defunct minor league basketball team.
He recently acquired a long-running podcast on Disney World tourism, and directed As Dreamers Do, a religious-themed film about the life of Walt Disney. The film’s most common rating on IMDB is 1 out of 10 stars. “A truly appalling film, possibly the worst I have ever seen,” one of the film’s 19 reviews reads.
“An abomination,” another reads. “It is offensive to anyone who has studied Disney history and admires the man behind the mouse.”
“I found myself shaking from how poor it was in every sense of imagination,” reads a third.
Despite his considerable CASE income, Sekulow relied on crowdfunding for at least two creative endeavors. In March 2015, he launched a Kickstarter for Laugh-o-Gram, a “weekly newspaper exclusively featuring classic & brand new comic strips.” The Kickstarter raised over $16,000 before Laugh-o-Gram shuttered the following year with an apology to Kickstarter donors who hadn’t received their full-year package. (Sekulow presumably kept the money, since Kickstarter doesn’t offer refunds for failed campaigns, but said he sent free merchandise to donors.)
He also ran a failed Kickstarter campaign to create the “Reuben’s Cube,” a Rubik’s cube with a picture of a reuben sandwich on it.
The campaign earned $846 of its $6,500 goal. The failed campaign still earned the equivalent of over 40 of the “small sacrificial gifts” that CASE telemarketers asked of people too poor to give.