New York, NY – Tax documents showed that the national Black Lives Matter organization still had $42 million in net assets as of June of 2021 and that the group’s co-founder had put the father of her child and her brother on the group’s payroll for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Multiple states have launched investigations into Black Lives Matter’s usage of donations to the group that were meant to support activism.
California and Washington called a halt to the group accepting donations earlier this year after it failed to file financial statements.
California told Black Lives Matter that it was in danger of losing its tax exempt status with the state also threatened to hold the group’s leadership financially liable.
Indiana filed a lawsuit against the group earlier this month.
Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) shared its 63-page Form 990 exclusively with the Associated Press in May.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filing showed that of the $90 million in donations the group received after the death of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police in 2020, BLMGNF invested $32 million in stocks.
The group said the investment was made to create an endowment to ensure the future success of the foundation, the Associated Press reported.
BLMGNF ended its last fiscal year – which ran from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 – with $42 million in net assets.
A board member told the Associated Press that the foundation had a $4 million operating budget.
The tax filing was the first time BLMGNF has had to publicly disclose its financials because it became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in December of 2020.
According to the tax filing, the Black Lives Matter national organization doesn’t have an executive director or any in-house staff.
The documents disclosed the $6 million purchase of a mansion in Studio City to be used as a compound to be used for fellowships for black artists.
Last week, Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors admitted that she had used the mansion for personal events and paid family members to run the property.
Cullors maintained in an interview with the Associated Press that she had done nothing wrong despite accusations she benefited from the BLMGNF, including accusations she bought homes for herself with dollars gifted for activism.
“I thought practicing radical transparency with black people would have been received well,” Cullors told the Associated Press. “What was unhelpful about releasing it was not getting enough people allying with us about it. We weren’t the only organization to receive millions of dollars.”
“The idea that [the foundation] received millions of dollars and then I hid those dollars in my bank account is absolutely false,” the activist insisted. “That’s a false narrative. It’s impacted me personally and professionally, that people would accuse me of stealing from black people.”
The mansion that has most recently made headlines was featured in the background of a YouTube video that showed BLMGNF co-founders Cullors and Alicia Garza, and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles founder Melina Abdullah, discussing their activism on the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death, according to Sean Campbell at New York Magazine.
The group paid $6 million in cash for the 6,500-square foot, seven-bedroom Los Angeles mansion in Studio City.
“For me, the hardest moments have been the right-wing-media machine just leveraging literally all its weight against me, against our movement, against BLM the organization,” Cullors said in the video. “I’m some weeks out now from a lot of the noise, so I have more perspective, right? While I was in it, I was in survival mode.”
The co-founder of the national Black Lives Matter movement was referring to allegations that she used BLMGNF donor funds to help pay for new homes she purchased for $3.2 million in Los Angeles and Georgia, New York Magazine reported.
She denied having used Black Lives Matter donations to buy the ostentatious properties but donors continued to question what was happening with the money they had contributed for activism.
The purchase of the $6 million home called “Campus” by the organization’s leadership was not publicly reported and the way the purchase was handled revealed they had hoped to keep its existence a secret, New York Magazine reported.
When that publication began asking questions about it, Black Lives Matters circulated a strategy memo discussing how to deal with the revelation.
Responses ranged from “Can we kill the story?” to “Our angle — needs to be to deflate ownership of the property,” New York Magazine reported.
The shady way that the group went about acquiring the mansion raised even more eyebrows.
Two weeks after BLMGNF received $66.5 million in contributions in October of 2020, Dyane Pascall bought the property that would become known as “Campus” for $6 million in cash, New York Magazine reported.
Pascall is the financial manager of Janaya and Patrisse Consulting, an LLC owned by Cullors and her wife.
He is also the chief financial officer of Trap Heals, a nonprofit led by the father of Cullors’ child, Damon Turner, New York Magazine reported.
BLMGNF’s new tax filings showed the organization paid Turner’s organization $970,000 in consulting fees during that fiscal year, the Associated Press reported.
Pascall transferred ownership of the mansion less than a week later to a Delaware LLC established by the law firm Perkins Coie, a move that hid the identity of the property’s owner from the public.
Black Lives Matter leadership immediately began using the house after its ownership was transferred, New York Magazine reported.
Cullors’ brother, Paul Cullors, was paid $840,000 to run physical security for the Campus in addition to handling security at his sister’s private homes, the Associated Press reported.
The group’s internal records showed Cullors’ mother was approved for a cleaning job at “Campus,” New York Magazine reported.
Cullors’ sister also signed an employee nondisclosure agreement but it was unclear if she was paid to work there.
The BLM founder confirmed that she had employed family members to take care of the compound, but said she did so because they had the right skill sets that were needed, the Associated Press reported.
Cullors, a self-proclaimed Marxist, resigned as executive director of BLMGNF in May of 2021 after the allegations of malfeasance arose surrounding the new homes she had purchased, just a few days after she filmed the video with Garza and Abdullah at the $6 million home that donors didn’t know about, according to New York Magazine.
Shortly thereafter, the two people who BLMGNF had announced were in charge resigned from the organization and released a statement that said they had never had control of the group’s money.
“It comes across as an early startup nonprofit, without substantial governance structure in place, that got a huge windfall,” Ohio State University Professor Brian Mittendorf, an accounting instructor who focuses on nonprofit organizations and their financial statements, told the Associated Press.
“People are going to be quick to assume that mismatch reflects intent,” Mittendorf said. “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.”
Cullors was BLMGNF’s only voting director and held no board meetings in 2020, the Associated Press reported.
According to the new tax filing, Cullors did not receive any payments to herself or her consulting firm from Black Lives Matter.
The tax filing showed the same year, BLMGNF paid $2.1 million to Bowers Consulting, a firm run by Shalomyah Bowers, the foundation’s board secretary, the Associated Press reported.
Bowers is one of three members of the group’s board of directors.
The tax filing also showed the group gave $26 million in grants to 12 local BLM chapters and three family foundations.
“This 990 reveals that [the BLM foundation] is the largest Black abolitionist nonprofit organization that has ever existed in the nation’s history. What we’re doing has never been done before,” Bowers told The Washington Post.