Crickets from BLM on who controls its massive $60m bankroll amid leadership chaos

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Some questions have been raised by certain charity auditors in light of revelations that, despite taking in roughly $60 million in donations, the national Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization doesn’t seem to be able to say who exactly is actually in charge of handling that money.

In the 2019 tax filing for the “charity,” the most recent one available, an address is given in Los Angeles – that doesn’t actually exist. The two remaining directors, Shalomyah Bowers and Raymond Howard were contacted by the Washington Examiner – and declined to comment, with one of them reportedly even deleting his social media references to BLM after being contacted. A 2020 return has yet to be filed by the organization, which could possibly lead to BLM being fined by the IRS for delinquency.

CharityWatch, a group that scrutinizes organizations registered as charities for financial malfeasance, was deeply concerned, as expressed by Lauri Styron, the executive director of CharityWatch who says that the failure to file their 2020 returns is a large red flag.

“Like a giant ghost ship full of treasure drifting in the night with no captain, no discernible crew, and no clear direction,” Styron said of the vanished cash (and leaders).

The discrepancies create a situation that is “grossly irregular,” according to Paul Kamenar, a counsel for the National Legal and Policy Center. Kamenar went on to tell the Examiner that a full audit was needed of BLM.

People began to take notice in May of 2021, when Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of BLM, stepped down as director of Black Lives Matter Global Network, which represents the collective, local BLM chapters. Previously, in December of 2020, the group had received a non-profit label from the IRS, allowing them to collect tax-deductible donations directly. Prior to that, money had been handled by a group called Thousand Currents, and in September of 2020 Cullors had transferred $66.5 million into BLM’s direct accounts.

In the wake of the George Floyd protests, BLM took in $90 million throughout 2020, distributed some to their various subsidiaries, and kept $60 million in its accounts, as confirmed in February of 2021. While donations on its main platform averaged $30.76 each, BLM refused to disclose the names of actual donors, especially the prominent ones who donated significantly more than $30.

While this information was made public out of an acknowledgment that BLM’s finances had previously been murky and opaque, and would try to be more transparent in the future (as required by an IRS non-profit designation,) other details came to light in April of 2021, provided by the National Legal and Policy Center, showing that Cullors had quietly assembled a vast stretch of properties collectively worth at least $3.2 million.

Cullors immediately began to draw criticism, which she deflected by pointing to her book deals, YouTube deal, and Warner Bros. deal to create programming “for children, young adults and families.” Cullors eventually resigned and handed over the reins to Makani Themba and Monifa Bandele.

The problem, however, is that Themba and Bandele claimed in September that they had never actually taken the positions, following disagreements with the other leaders. The two women even released a statement disavowing the press release that they had actually filled those jobs:

“Although a media advisory was released indicating that we were tapped to play the role of senior co-executives at BLMGN, we were not able to come to an agreement with the acting Leadership Council about our scope of work and authority. As a result, we did not have the opportunity to serve in this capacity.”

Themba and Bandele say they have no idea who was actually running BLM, since they never actually assumed the offices. The only two directors remaining were Bowers and Howard, the two individuals contacted by the Examiner. This has left it an open question as to what happened to the remaining $60 million in BLM accounts.

Kamenar’s watchdog group has some ideas on what needs to happen, however:

“Bottom line: Lot of questionable financial activity, organizational structure, location of the books, etc. that call for a full investigation.”

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