Just the week before, Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, had cheerfully predicted that Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers had "turned the corner" and would never withdraw her name from consideration.
Now, a few hours after Miers proved him dead wrong, Sekulow sounded as upbeat as ever. "She did the noble thing," Sekulow told the million-plus people listening to his daily radio show on Christian stations last Thursday, adding, confidentially, "I saw this coming." The next nominee, he predicted, would be a sitting judge just as worthy of support as Miers.
It was vintage Sekulow: gliding over contradictions, pleased to be a player in nomination politics, and more than ready to play again. In recent weeks, Sekulow, the leading Supreme Court advocate of the Christian right, emerged as the steadiest and most visible of a dwindling number of social conservatives willing to support Miers. Because of that steadfast loyalty, he is likely to play a key role in campaigning for whoever replaces her.
"Jay has clearly succeeded in becoming closely linked to the Bush administration and has become a principal salesman for Bush nominees," says Elliot Mincberg, legal director of People For the American Way.
This is the public Jay Sekulow, the man who has become a familiar face on television in recent months and who has been a fixture in Washington legal circles as head of the ACLJ, an organization founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson in 1990.
But there is another side to Jay Sekulow, one that, until now, has been obscured from the public. It is the Jay Sekulow who, through the ACLJ and a string of interconnected nonprofit and for-profit entities, has built a financial empire that generates millions of dollars a year and supports a lavish lifestyle -- complete with multiple homes, chauffeur-driven cars, and a private jet that he once used to ferry Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.