Tax filings revealed Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors paid her brother and child’s father with money from the charity.
The latest 990 filing showed the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation ended the last fiscal year with $42 million in net assets. A board member said it “had an operating budget of about $4 million.”
From The Associated Press:
To get here, the foundation has relied on a small grouping of consultants, some of whom have close ties to founders and other BLM organizers. For example, the tax filing shows the foundation paid nearly $970,000 to Trap Heals LLC, a company founded by Damon Turner, who fathered a child with Cullors. The company was hired to produce live events and provide other creative services, [foundation board secretary Shalomyah] Bowers said.
The foundation paid more than $840,000 to Cullors Protection LLC, a security firm run by Paul Cullors, Patrisse’s brother, according to the tax filing. Because the BLM movement is known for vehemently protesting law enforcement organizations, the foundation felt its protection could not be entrusted to former police professionals who typically run security firms, said Bowers, adding the foundation sought bids for other security contractors.
Bowers, who has previously served as deputy executive director, is founder and president of a firm that received the lion’s share of money spent on consultants in the last fiscal year. Bowers Consulting provided much of the foundation’s operational support, including staffing, fundraising and other key services and was paid more than $2.1 million, according to the tax filing.
Yes, the board secretary’s firm received over $2.1 million.
Brian Mittendorf, an accounting professor at Ohio State University, explained to the AP that it’s not unusual for new nonprofits to rely on consultants. But there’s a catch:
But having clear policies around business transactions could reduce any appearance of impropriety, he said.
“It’s a best practice not to engage in business transactions with people who have influence inside the organization or with companies affiliated with people who have influence inside the organization,” Mittendorf said. “Make sure you have conflict of interest policies and other controls in place, so that those transactions are all being done to benefit the organization and not to benefit the individuals.”
The tax filing indicates the foundation has a conflict-of-interest policy. And Bowers said the last BLM board approved the contract with his firm when he was not a board member.
“Our firm stepped in when Black Lives Matter had no structure and no staff,” he said. “We filled the gap, when nothing else existed. But let me be crystal clear, there was no conflict of interest.”
The foundation also wrote off $26 million “as grants to organizations and families in the last fiscal year.”
Cullors already admitted that the organization employed her mother, sister, and brother.
BLM also spent more than $37 million on grants, real estate, and private flights.
The organization also invested $32 million in stocks, which is about a third of the $90 million it received in donations.
Cullors reimbursed the organization $73,523 for a charter flight in 2021. She claimed she used the private plane because of COVID. She already admitted using the $6 million mansion the organization bought in California for a few personal reasons.
However, Cullors also bought other homes worth millions in California. But she justified those purchases because “she was weeks removed from being in ‘survival mode.’”
Another red flag is the fact that Cullors was the only one in charge:
Also raising eyebrows was the fact that during the last fiscal year, Cullors was the foundation board’s sole voting director and held no board meetings, according to the filing. Although that is permissible under Delaware law, where the foundation is incorporated, that governance structure gives the appearance that Cullors alone decided who to hire and how to spend donations.
Bowers is now on the board of directors along with board chair Cicley Gay and ‘DZhane Parker.
They promise more transparency including a section on their website dedicated to the idea.
Cullors unleashed fury at the IRS in April:
The event led to the BLM activist calling charity transparency laws “triggering,” particularly the requirement that groups file Form 990s, or tax forms, to the IRS.
“It is such a trip now to hear the term ‘990,’” Cullors said in April. “I’m, like, ugh. It’s, like, triggering.”
Cullors said she “actually did not know what 990s were” before the report was released.
BLM began in 2017. Cullors consistently says that they’re a brand new nonprofit and didn’t know to handle the situation. Even after four years?
Hopefully the new board members won’t find 990s “triggering.”
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