The family and friends of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors reaped millions in lucrative contracts and payments from the charity after it received a windfall of cash amid nationwide protests in the summer of 2020, according to charity tax documents released Tuesday.
Damon Turner, the father of Cullors's only child, raked in $969,459 from the embattled charity through his art firm, Trap Heals, BLM's Form 990 disclosure shows. An LLC run by Cullors's brother, Paul Cullors, received $840,993 for "professional security services." Shalomyah Bowers, a member of the BLM board of directors and a close associate to Cullors, pulled in $2,167,894 to his company for consulting and management services. New Impact Partners, an LLC run by the sister of BLM operations director Raymond Howard, received $107,000 for "fundraising counsel activities."
Cullors ultimately had exclusive control over how BLM spent its funds, as she was the only member of the charity's board of directors from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, the time frame covered by the Form 990 disclosure.
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"This 990 shows why Cullors could no longer lead Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation," Tom Anderson, the director of the Government Integrity Project at the National Legal and Policy Center watchdog group, told the Washington Examiner. "I'm sure people who donated, in some cases their rent money, to BLM didn't expect millions of dollars going to family members and close associates of Patrisse Cullors while thousands of protests were taking place."
BLM even paid out $139,625 to its former executive director, Kailee Scales, despite the fact that she didn't work for the charity during the time frame.
"Kailee Scales did not serve during the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021," BLM reported in its Form 990. "However, she did receive a severance payment for calendar year 2020 in the amount of $139,625. The terms and conditions of the arrangement are confidential."
Cullors herself billed BLM $73,523 for charter flights during the year, which BLM said Cullors repaid to the charity sometime after July 2021.
"Charter travel for the executive director was incurred due to security threats and during the COVID pandemic. This travel was for organizational purposes," BLM reported.
BLM also reported spending $5,923,811 on its mansion in Los Angeles, which was purchased with donor cash in October 2020.
Cullors repaid BLM $390 for her use of the charity's mansion for her child's birthday party in March 2021.
The charity also disclosed spending a significant sum of money outside the United States.
BLM doled out $8,024,626 in grants to organizations based in foreign countries in North America, upward of $6 million of which is presumably related to the group's grant to BLM Canada to help fund its cash purchase of a mansion in downtown Toronto in mid-July 2021.
It's not clear where BLM disbursed the remaining $2 million in foreign grants to entities in North America outside of the U.S.
BLM also granted nearly $26 million to local BLM chapters and other social justice groups across the country. Notable recipients include the Trayvon Martin Foundation, which received $200,000 from BLM, and the George Floyd Memorial Foundation, which also received $200,000.
BLM closed out June 2021 with net assets of $41.9 million, $32 million of which were "investments" in publicly traded securities, the 990 shows.
In addition, BLM revealed the Tides Foundation, which served as the charity's fiscal sponsor during the second half of 2020, held $26.1 million in the "Black Lives Matter Support Fund" at the end of December 2021.
BLM did not disclose how much money it has raised and spent from the Tides Foundation's "Black Lives Matter Support Fund" from the time it was launched in July 2020.
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Bowers, who currently serves on BLM's board of directors, told the Associated Press there was "no conflict of interest" with BLM's payments to Cullors's immediate family members and close associates.
BLM's Form 990 stated it plans to make its audited financial statements available to the public.
However, Patrick Curtis, the certified public accountant who possesses BLM's books and records, declined to even meet the Washington Examiner upon arriving at his Bethesda, Maryland, office Monday morning to request a copy of BLM's audited financial statements.
Also on Tuesday, BLM launched the "BLM Transparency Center" on its website to fight back against "misinformation from the right wing about our finances."
"There is a longstanding legacy of mistrust and doubt about how Black people spend their money, like Ronald Reagan’s 'welfare queen' moniker, a racist trope he peddled to gain the power of the presidency," BLM said. "The right has taken up this cause, hoping to sow mistrust in our work via their media outlets."
However, BLM's move to release its Form 990 disclosure was likely prompted by the Washington Examiner reporting in January about the charity's lack of financial transparency.
The Washington Examiner reported in January that nobody was in charge of BLM, the group had listed the wrong address on its prior Form 990 disclosures, and the charity's known board members at the time wouldn't disclose who was in control of the group's finances.
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The report prompted multiple liberal states, including California, to send legal threats to BLM over its lack of financial transparency. The report also led BLM to shut down its online fundraising streams in February, effectively rendering the charity unable to raise any money. BLM has yet to relaunch its online fundraising channels.
BLM did not return a request for comment.