Two states have ordered leaders of Black Lives Matter (BLM) to cease fundraising operations over concerns about how such donations are being used.
California and Washington, both heavily Democratic, sent letters to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation Inc. last month threatening the group with legal action over potential violations of financial reporting laws, according to The Washington Examiner.
The BLM Global Network Foundation is the legal entity of the national BLM movement and has received tens of millions of dollars in donations in recent years. The foundation took in over $90 million in 2020, the year protests and riots erupted over the death of George Floyd. The organization has since faced backlash from local leaders who claim the umbrella group has been tightfisted and secretive about the mounds of cash it has raised ostensibly for activism.
The California Department of Justice sent a letter BLM on January 31 threatening to hold the organization’s leadership liable if $60 million worth of donations received is not correctly reported within 60 days. “The organization BLACK LIVES MATTER GLOBAL NETWORK FOUNDATION, INC. is delinquent with The Registry of Charitable Trusts for failing to submit required annual report(s),” the letter said, according to The Examiner.
Weeks earlier on January 5, the Washington Secretary of State Corporations and Charities Division sent a letter to the BLM national group warning that it could face a $2,000 fine for each in-state donation it receives before providing the state with detailed records on the group’s finances.
“Please note that a violation of the Act is also a violation of the consumer Protection Act … and could result in the imposition of injunctions and civil penalties of up to $2,000 per violation,” the letter said, according to The Examiner. “Any organization that solicits and/or collects contributions in violation of the Act and CPA will be reported to the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division for further action.”
Both states banned the group from soliciting and receiving donations from residents within those states until records are received. According to The Examiner, the BLM group is also out of compliance with charity codes in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia.
The BLM national group has reportedly been without permanent leadership for months. Group co-founder Patrisse Cullors resigned from the national organization in May amid fallout from a $3.2 million spending binge on real estate. Cullors said that activists Makani Themba and Monifa Bandele would serve as the organization’s senior directors after her departure, but Themba and Bandele revealed in September that they never took the posts over disagreements with BLM, according to The Examiner.
The curious situation has raised a host of red flags among ethics experts. The national group is reportedly sitting on $60 million.
BLM Global Network Foundation has long faced harsh criticism from grassroots groups in the BLM movement. Local activists have alleged that the national group has not doled out its sizable treasury to grassroots groups.
“Since the establishment of BLMGN, our chapters have consistently raised concerns about financial transparency, decision making, and accountability,” a coalition of BLM grassroots groups said in a joint statement in November 2020. “Despite years of effort, no acceptable internal process of accountability has ever been produced by BLMGN and these recent events have undermined the efforts of chapters seeking to democratize its processes and resources.”