It seems the flow of stories detailing corruption in the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) continues to pour in as more scrutiny is placed on the organization’s finances. The group filed its IRS Form 990, which featured a few problematic elements.
The form, which the organization shared with the Associated Press, showed BLMGNF funneled a significant amount of funds to certain individuals that might constitute a conflict of interest. However, the filing also showed that some of the accusations made against the group might have been exaggerated.
“In a new, 63-page Form 990 shared exclusively with The Associated Press, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation Inc. reports that it invested $32 million in stocks from the $90 million it received as donations amid racial justice protests in 2020. That investment is expected to become an endowment to ensure the foundation’s work continues in the future, organizers say.
“It ended its last fiscal year – from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 – with nearly $42 million in net assets. The foundation had an operating budget of about $4 million, according to a board member.”
The filing showed the controversial $6 million purchase of a luxury Los Angeles home. After reports of the real estate deal surfaced, many criticized the group for the way it was handling the more than $90 million in donations it received in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Leaders in the organization claimed the house was meant for black artists and activism.
This is BLMGF’s first time filing a public accounting since it was formed in 2017. Before, it was under the fiscal umbrella of another charity. This meant the organization was not required to publicly disclose its finances until it became an independent 501(c)(3) in 2020.
One of the areas of contention that arose when media outlets began questioning the group is its apparent lack of leadership. The AP pointed out that BLMGF’s “governance structure makes it difficult to disprove allegations of impropriety, financial mismanagement and deviation from mission” that have plagued the group since it once again rose to prominence two years ago.
Of particular interest is the group’s reliance on various consultants. Some of these professionals are closely tied to founders of the organization and some of its leaders. The filing shows BLMGF paid about $970,000 to Trap Heals LLC, a company that builds “equity for communities of color to sustain themselves, by investing in cultural and economic infrastructure,” according to its website. The issue? The founder of the company happens to be the father of Patrisse Cullors’ child. Cullors is one of the co-founders of BLMGF. Damon Turner started Trap Heals just days before partnering with the organization as its “lead developer of the art & cultural efforts.”
The group also paid more than $840,000 to Cullors Protection LLC, a security firm headed by Paul Cullors, Patrisse’s brother. BLMGF used the company ostensibly because it did not trust former police officers, who typically run security companies. Shalomyah Bowers, the foundation’s board secretary, claimed the group sought out bids from other security firms.
Another noteworthy fact about this story is that the foundation’s filing appears to repudiate claims made by Black Lives Matter’s local chapters accusing the global organization of not sharing the millions in donations it received. BLMGF gave $26 million in grants, which accounted for 70% of its expenses, to various charities, chapters, and families of victims of police shootings. From AP:
“Twelve BLM chapters, including those in Boulder, Colorado; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Los Angeles; Gary, Indiana; and Philadelphia, received pledges for grants of up to $500,000. The family foundations created in honor of Floyd and others killed by police and vigilantes — Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant — each received contributions of $200,000.”
Shortly before the group issued its filing, Marc Elias and Minyon Moore, two longtime friends of Bill and Hillary Clinton, stepped down from their leadership positions in the organization. This came shortly after they had accepted these roles. In February, BLMGNF announced that Elias’ law firm was overseeing its finances. However, the Elias Law Group is not listed on filings submitted to Florida and Oklahoma. This could portend bad news for the foundation.
Tom Anderson, director of the Government Integrity Project at the National Legal and Policy Center, told the Washington Examiner that “the Elias Law Group is a firm with a laser focus on electing Democrats and pushing the progressive agenda” and that “[t]his makes their disappearance from the latest BLM Global Network Foundation filings a pivotal moment” that might foreshadow “the total collapse of what is left of the organization.”
As of yet, it is not clear if this filing portends what will happen with BLMGNF in the future. It may have somewhat vindicated the group when it comes to addressing allegations made against it by the local chapters. But it also raised other questions. Of particular concern is the apparent conflict of interest and its covert purchase of the Los Angeles home. Moreover, police brutality, which has been the foundation’s bread and butter, has not been in the spotlight since Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering Floyd.
Are there financial skeletons lurking in the group’s closet? If so, the filing might just be one of several nails in Black Lives Matter’s coffin.