BLM spent quarter of donations on high-power legal firm where lawyers charge $750 an hour

BLM spent quarter of donations on high-power legal firm where lawyers charge $750 an hour
A person holds a Black Lives Matter flag as people gather outside the Hennepin County Government Center on May 23, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) reportedly received $60 million in donations in the year 2020, out of which $12.7 million was spent on consultants and lawyers. Daily Mail reports this after obtaining IRS documents submitted by the organization in August of that year while trying to get tax-exempt, nonprofit status. It has been said that the country’s most high-profile Black Lives Matter group exhausted such a heavy amount on “professional fees” after the police killing of George Floyd in May.

Reportedly, “professional fees” mean money spent on accountants, lawyers, consultants, and contractors. It also includes a high-power legal firm, Perkins Coie, where lawyers charge $750 an hour. It’s the same firm that was hired by Hillary Clinton for her 2016 presidential campaign. The news website also reported that the foundation planned to blow the same amount of money in 2021.



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People gather at the Brooklyn museum for a vigil to commemorate the anniversary of George Floyd's death on May 25, 2021, in New York City. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

The details about the organization’s expenditure came as it faces scrutiny over financial secrecy. Recently, BLMGNF was taken out from Amazon’s charity platform – AmazonSmile – after it failed to maintain financial transparency. A spokesperson of Amazon explained, “States have rules for nonprofits, and organizations participating in AmazonSmile need to meet those rules. Unfortunately, this organization fell out of compliance with the rules in several states, so we’ve had to temporarily suspend them from the program until they come into compliance.”

Besides, earlier in February, the Department of Justice in California, where the headquarter of BLMGNF is, also slammed the group and threatened to hold its leaders personally accountable if they did not show details of their money for the 2020 tax year. A formal delinquency notice to the organization written by the state’s Attorney General Rob Bonta read, “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). An organization that is delinquent, suspended or revoked is not in good standing and is prohibited from engaging in conduct for which registration is required, including soliciting or disbursing charitable funds.”

BLMGNF reportedly got the status of a charity in December 2020 but failed to give its latest tax return. Not just that, the foundation's 2019 filing includes an address that does not exist at all. reported that in “a financial report released in February 2021, BLMGNF confirmed it took in $90million throughout 2020, distributed grants to its partner organizations, and had $60million remaining in its accounts.” But the questions were raised after it was found there was no official in charge of BLMGNF’s funds after co-founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi left it.


(L-R) Activists Patrisse Cullors, actress Tracee Ellis Ross, and activists Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza attend Glamour Women of the Year 2016 Dinner at Paley on November 14, 2016, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Glamour)

Tory Russell, an activist from St Louis, Missouri, and co-founder of the International Black Freedom Alliance, has criticized BLMGNF for its exaggerated expenses. Russell told Daily Mail: “It's the nonprofit industrial complex on steroids. It's a white supremacist model of doing movement work.”

Hawk Newsome, the head of Black Lives Matter Greater New York City, also said: “I just want people to have faith in the BLM movement and that's what transparency does,” before claiming that BLMGNF had called him a “GOP operative” after he worked independently and didn't take money from them. He added: “It's bulls**t. I've been arrested more than 10 times in the past few years and I was arrested for fighting with Trump supporters. BLM Greater New York is for the streets and these people are in offices criticizing us? It's ridiculous.”


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