Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors hosted at least two personal parties at the group's $6 million Los Angeles mansion in early 2021, the embattled activist has said.
The revelation comes just one month after Cullors denied ever living at the property, which the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation purchased with donor cash in October 2020, or that she used it for personal gain. Both claims have since been contradicted by Cullors's statements.
Cullors revealed she hosted a party for 15 people at the mansion in January 2021 to celebrate President Joe Biden's inauguration. Cullors said the party happened during the same time she lived at the compound for a four-day period as the FBI investigated threats against her life.
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Two months later, in March, Cullors said she hosted a private birthday party for her son.
"I look back at that and think, that probably wasn’t the best idea," Cullors said of the personal parties she hosted at BLM's mansion.
BLM said it billed Cullors a "rental fee" for using the property for her son's birthday party, which Cullors said she intended to pay back to the charity.
It's not clear when BLM billed Cullors for her private use of the property, and for how much. Nor is it clear if BLM has allowed anyone other than Cullors to host private parties at its mansion.
BLM and Cullors did not return requests for comment.
It's also not clear if BLM billed Cullors for using the property for at least two videos uploaded to her personal YouTube channel.
In an April 2021 video, Cullors filmed herself baking a peach cobbler in the mansion's kitchen. Later that May, at about the time Cullors resigned as BLM's executive director, Cullors uploaded a video of her and two other BLM leaders sipping wine on the mansion's patio railing against critics of her personal real estate purchases.
A watchdog group filed an IRS complaint in April seeking civil or criminal penalties for Cullors for her "highly unusual" alleged use of BLM's mansion for her personal benefit.
"Enough is enough," said Paul Kamenar, the lawyer who drafted the complaint for the National Legal and Policy Center. "The IRS owes the public and supporters of Black Lives Matter a full investigation of the group's finances, management, and cover-up of the use of its $6 million LA mansion by Patrisse Cullors, even if she thinks compliance with IRS disclosure rules is 'triggering' and causes her and her associates 'trauma.'"
Cullors said on April 5 that BLM hid its purchase of the mansion from the public for 19 months because it "needed repairs and renovation."
"I do not own the property, have never lived there," she said. "I have never misappropriated funds, and it pains me that so many people have accepted that narrative without the presence of tangible truth or facts."
The BLM co-founder said she wishes the charity could have pressed the pause button after being inundated with upward of $90 million in 2020 following the police killing of George Floyd.
"The only regret I have with BLM is wishing that we could have paused for one to two years, to just not do any work and just focus on the infrastructure," Cullors said.
She also lamented that BLM's move to issue a report in February 2021 disclosing what it did with the money it raised in 2020 didn't have the desired effect.
“I thought practicing radical transparency with Black people would have been received well,” she said of the report, which made no mention of BLM's $6 million mansion purchased with donor funds. “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.”
Kamenar said Cullors's statement was worthy of mockery.
"Cullors's claim of 'practicing radical transparency' is laughable. Radical obfuscation and dissembling is more like it," Kamenar told the Washington Examiner.
BLM board member Shalomyah Bowers said the charity has undergone an independent financial audit that will be released alongside its expected form 990 financial disclosure, which is due May 15. The disclosures will show that "nothing impermissible or nefarious has happened" with the millions of dollars under BLM's control, Bowers said.
"We are now a foundation that is deeply devoted to investing in organizations that are committed to doing the work of abolition (and) committed to building Black power," Bowers said.
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Cullors had frequently railed against critics who questioned BLM's lack of financial transparency as racists and sexists, but BLM co-founder Alicia Garza said efforts to secure accountability from the charity should not be dismissed.
"I think it is important to be transparent about what is actually happening,” Garza said. “And my assessment is that because there was a lack of response (to public questions), specifically from the Global Network Foundation, it allowed for people to fill in the blanks.”