A West Virginia man says he received an intimidating letter from an attorney after he questioned the fund-raising practices of TV preacher Pat Robertson's Ameridcan Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
Ron Rissler of Charles Town, W. Va., told The Washington Post that his mother, Alice Rissler, received a letter from ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow soliciting a $25 donation. The letter referred to a telephone conversation Sekulow's "assistant" Damion Boyd supposedly had with Rissler's husband, John.
Alice Rissler was suspicious, because her husband died two years ago. When Ron Rissler called the ACLJ, he said a staffer there laughed at his story.
"The guy laughs at me, and I said, 'I don't find much humor in this, and neither does my mother,'" Ron Rissler said.
Ron Rissler then wrote to Sekulow at the ACLJ to find out what was going on. In response, he received a letter from Andrew J. Ekonomou from an Atlanta law firm that read, "It is not clear to me why you have addressed your letter to Mr. Sekulow when it is Mr. Boyd with whom you wish to speak. Any further direct communications between you and my clients are to cease at once."
Rissler ignored the missive and wrote to Sekulow again. After getting no reply, he complained to the West Virginia Secredtary of State's office, which regulates charitable solicitations in the state.
In response, Ekonomou replied with another letter, stating that the original plea for cash from Sekulow was an "inadvertence" and claiming that Boyd actually spoke with Ron Rissler's brother, who is also named John. Rissler disputes this, pointing out that his brother does not live in the house that got the call.
It turned out that Sekulow's "assistant" Boyd is actually a professional telemarketer employed by a company called InfoCision, which handles phone solicitations for the ACLJ.
Gene Kapp, a spokesman for the ACLJ, said InfoCision has apologized to Ron Rissler. But Sekulow told The Post that mistakes like this are inevitable.
"When you have a large organization and a database of hundreds of thousands of donors, unfortunately it does happen," Sekulow said. "Unfortunately, these things happen, but we have never had a complaint of any significance that's ever been investigated."