In the fiscal year concluding in June 2022, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation experienced a substantial reduction in its funds raised, pulling in just $9.3 million, which marked an 88% plunge from its earnings during the previous year. This dramatic downturn comes amid a period of heightened scrutiny and public critique, stemming from the financial activities of the foundation’s founder, Patrisse Cullors, as well as certain transactions involving close associates and family members.
During this tumultuous period, Patrisse Cullors embarked on a cross-country spree of real estate purchases. Her acquisitions comprised four properties in California and Georgia, totaling a considerable sum of $3.2 million. Additionally, Cullors extended her property investments beyond the United States, with a significant financial grant of $8 million directed to the foundation’s Canadian affiliate. This contribution was allocated for the procurement of an opulent mansion in Toronto, a transaction completed in July 2021, with the property’s purchase price listed as $6.3 million.
Further questions were raised regarding the disbursement of funds within Cullors’ immediate circle. Notably, her brother, Paul Cullors, received a hefty sum of $840,993 for the provision of “professional security services.” Moreover, the founder’s familial ties seemed to extend to the foundation’s financial dealings, with an art firm headed by the father of her only child, Damon Turner, securing a payment of $969,459. In addition, a consulting firm owned by Shalomyah Bowers, a member of the Black Lives Matter board, reportedly received $2,167,894 for delivering management services for the charity.
Amid the pressure of these revelations and the subsequent demands for transparency and accountability, Cullors and the Black Lives Matter foundation found themselves confronted with the need to disclose the seemingly self-interested transactions occurring within their organization. The controversy was further fueled by the charity’s Form 990 tax return, which was subjected to public scrutiny and criticism, not only from those Cullors often accused of right-wing persecution but also from allies within the movement.
Black Lives Matter Grassroots, a formerly affiliated organization of the foundation, emerged as one of its most vocal critics. Citing the charity’s tax return, the group filed a lawsuit in September 2022 accusing Bowers, a close associate of Cullors, of treating the charity as his “personal piggy bank”. The lawsuit alleged that Bowers misappropriated an additional $10 million in “fees” from the Black Lives Matter charity to his consulting firm, an amount over and above the already disclosed $2,167,894 as stated in the charity’s Form 990.
As per regulations, the Black Lives Matter charity was obligated to submit its Form 990 for the fiscal year 2022 to the IRS by a specific Monday deadline. However, when approached for a public release of the document by the Free Beacon, the foundation neither responded to the request nor complied with providing a more detailed required financial statement to the state of Florida, thus deepening the controversy surrounding its financial operations and management.