HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Alex Jones’ personal spending is frustrating families who are trying to collect on the $1.5 billion in judgments against him for calling the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting a hoax.
The conspiracy theorist and Infowars host has been paying his own wife, Erika Wulff Jones, $15,000 a month, according to the most recent spending report he filed in his bankruptcy case — payouts called “fraudulent transfers” by lawyers for some of the shooting victims’ families. Jones says they’re required under a prenuptial agreement.
In July, Jones spent $7,900 on housekeeping. He dished out more than $6,300 for meals and entertainment, not including groceries, which totaled nearly $3,400 — or roughly $850 per week.
A second home, his Texas lake house, cost him nearly $6,700 that month, including maintenance and property taxes, while his vehicles and boats sapped another $5,600, including insurance, maintenance and fuel.
His total personal expenses for July topped $93,000, up from nearly $75,000 in April, not including legal fees and other costs for his court cases, according to bankruptcy filings.
“It is disturbing that Alex Jones continues to spend money on excessive household expenditures and his extravagant lifestyle when that money rightfully belongs to the families he spent years tormenting,” said Christopher Mattei, a Connecticut lawyer for the families. “The families are increasingly concerned and will continue to contest these matters in court.”
In an Aug. 29 court filing, the lawyers for the families said that if Jones doesn’t reduce his personal expenses to a “reasonable” level, they will ask the judge to bar him from “further waste of estate assets,” appoint a trustee to oversee his spending or dismiss the bankruptcy case.
On his Infowars show Tuesday, Jones said he’s not doing anything wrong.
“If anything, I like to go to nice restaurants. That is my deal. I like to go on a couple of nice vacations a year, but I think I pretty much have earned that in this fight,” he said, urging his audience to donate money for his legal expenses.
Sandy Hook families won nearly $1.5 billion in judgments against Jones last year in lawsuits over repeated promotion of a false theory that the school shooting that killed 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, never happened.
Relatives of the victims testified at the trials about being harassed and threatened by Jones’ believers, who sent threats and even confronted the grieving families in person, accusing them of being “crisis actors” whose children never existed.
Collecting the astronomical sum, though, is proving to be a long battle.
When Jones filed for bankruptcy, it put a hold on the families’ efforts to collect the $1.5 billion in state courts as a federal bankruptcy court judge decides how much money Jones can actually pay his creditors.
Lawyers for the families have said in court that it has been difficult for them to track Jones’ finances because of the numerous companies he owns and multiple deals among those corporate entities.
Meanwhile, Jones is still broadcasting. He and his media company, Free Speech Systems, are seeking court approval for a new contract that would pay him $1.5 million a year plus incentive bonuses, up from his current $520,000-a-year salary. The company also filed for bankruptcy protection last year.
On Infowars, Jones said Tuesday that he is more than $1 million in debt. If he gets the salary increase, he said, he would be left with about $300,000 a year after paying his legal bills.
“With all my expenses and things, that’s nothing,” he said. “And I don’t care about that. I’m wearing a shirt I bought, like, eight years ago, and I love it to death.”
Financial documents filed by Jones and his bankruptcy lawyers say his personal net worth is around $14 million. His assets include a home worth $2.6 million, a $2.2 million ranch, a $1.8 million lake house, a $500,000 rental property, and four vehicles and two boats worth more than $330,000 in total. Jones had nearly $800,000 in his bank accounts on July 31, court documents show.
Free Speech Systems, meanwhile, continues to rake in cash from the sale of nutritional supplements, survival supplies and other merchandise that Jones hawks on Infowars, bringing in nearly $2.5 million in revenue in July alone, according to Jones’ financial reports, which he signed under penalty of perjury. The company’s expenses totaled about $2.4 million that month.
Meanwhile, some of the Sandy Hook families have another pending lawsuit claiming Jones hid millions of dollars in an attempt to protect his wealth. One of Jones’ lawyers has called the allegations “ridiculous.”
Jones, who is appealing the $1.5 billion in lawsuit awards against him, sat for a deposition in his bankruptcy case Tuesday and Wednesday in his hometown of Austin, Texas, where Infowars is based.
On his show Tuesday, he denied financial wrongdoing.
“I’m not Lex Luthor … when it comes to finances and life,” he said. “I mean, I’m a straight-up guy. I’m a do-good in Mayberry RFD.”