Tax records state one of the nation’s biggest social justice movements spent millions of dollars in a one-year span on staffing and consultant fees.
Some critics say the leaders never shared resources to grassroots chapters, and others went directly to the civil rights organization’s headquarters and accountants to ask them to verify where and to whom the money raised over the years has gone.
An Associated Press report shows the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) raised $90 million in donations, spent more than $37 million on grants, real estate, and other expenses, and paid almost $4 million in consultant fees between the fiscal year of July 2020 and June 2021.
Tax records reveal the organization also invested $32 million in stocks.
Many of the donations came in after BLM Global Network received an unprecedented amount of donations after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
Three individuals, who received the exuberant consultation fees, specifically raised eyebrows from critics.
A 63-page Form 990 documenting the money exchanges of the BLM Global Network cleared Patrisse Cullors of suspicions that she or her consulting firm received payments directly from the organization.
However, the records show that the movement’s primary nonprofit paid $2.1 million to Bowers Consulting, a firm run by Shalomyah Bowers. Bowers is not only a principal at the consulting firm but the secretary for the board of directors for the organization.
Trap Heals LLC, a company established by Damon Turner, the father of Cullors’ child, was paid $970,000 for his services, while the activist’s brother Paul Cullors secured a contract for his security company of $840,000. Other acquaintances close to Cullors received contracts totaling $1.8 million.
In addition to the consultation fees, the tax forms showed, the organization also made some investments and wealth-building decisions, including the aforementioned stocks, and the purchasing of properties, including a $6 million mansion in Los Angeles.
2021 was a big year in donations, with BLM Global Network receiving $77 million in contributions during its annual fiscal duration. At the end of the year, the report shows, it gave out $25 million in grants and acquired $42 million in assets.
The AP said in their research nonprofit experts told them the foundation was operating “like a scrappy organization with far fewer resources, although some say Black-led charities face unfair scrutiny in an overwhelmingly white and wealthy philanthropic landscape.”
However, how the nonprofit’s structure is run makes it easy for financial mismanagement and allegations of impropriety to form a cloud of doubt over the organization.
Brian Mittendorf, a professor of accounting at Ohio State University who focuses on nonprofit organizations and their financial statements, “It comes across as an early startup nonprofit, without substantial governance structure in place, that got a huge windfall.”
“People are going to be quick to assume that mismatch reflects intent,” he added. “Whether there’s anything improper here, that is another question. But whether they set themselves up for being criticized, I think that certainly is the case because they didn’t plug a bunch of those gaps.”
One of those gaps is working with people on the grounds in local chapters.
Activist YahNé Ndgo, who was the former organizer with the Philadelphia chapter of BLM chapter, told AP Cullors went back on her word to help local workers by sharing some of the foundation’s resources for grassroots works.
“When resources came in, when opportunities came in, (the foundation) alone would be the ones to decide who was going to take advantage of them, without having to take any consideration of the other organizers whose work was giving them the access to these resources and opportunities in the first place.”
Critics want answers.
Fox News Digital attempted to get tax records from the Elias Law Group, who once kept BLM’s books, the office of Rubino & Company, a financial preparer for the BLM Global Network, and directly from the BLM Global Network Foundation and Perlman + Perlman, a Mesa, Arizona-based law firm, but to no avail.
None of the parties associated with the nonprofit would entertain the conservative outlet.
Candace Owens purportedly went to Cullors’ Topanga Canyon residence on May 7 looking to ask her personally about the ways the organization spends money. During Owens’ visit, Cullors said she felt threatened.
The Black conservative influencer claimed to be filming a documentary regarding the “lie” of the social movement.
The BLM Global Network founder, who has stepped away from the organization, addressed the spending under her leadership, denying any inappropriate spending has been done on her part.
“I never used Black Lives Matter donations to pay for any of the properties that I own in the past or own right now,” Cullors said.
“You know the idea that Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation received millions of dollars and then I hid those dollars in my bank account is absolutely false.”
The tax information supports her claims and even shows how Cullors reimbursed the organization $73,523 for a charter plane she reserved during the rise of the COVID-19 and security threats in 2021. She also rented space at the organization’s Studio City property for two private events, paying them $390.