Dignity and Power Now: Patrisse Cullors-linked nonprofit hid over $150k from IRS
A non-profit group tied to Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors failed to report significant donations to the Internal Revenue Service, according to a new report. Cullors is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, artist, and abolitionist from Los Angeles. A co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, she was named as the 100 most influential people in 2020, and has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
As per the New York Post, Dignity and Power Now, a group started by Cullors, had raked in hundreds of thousands in donations but didn't report it to the IRS. The report alleges that the group received at least $225,000 in 2016, but told the IRS that the charity had not made more than $50,000 that year. This is as per public filings.
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What is 'Dignity and Power Now'?
Dignity and Power Now is a Los Angeles-based grassroots organization founded in 2012. A registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the organization, per its website, “Fights for the dignity and power of all incarcerated people, their families, and communities. Our mission is to build a Black and Brown led abolitionist movement rooted in community power towards the goal of achieving transformative justice and healing justice for all incarcerated people, their families, and communities.”
The organization has multiple programs centered around activism, health and wellness, and leadership building. They also have a coalition to end sheriff violence, a coalition to stop jail construction, an arts and wellness collective, a rapid response team of healers, a leadership institute for high school-aged youth affected by incarceration, a leadership institute for people coming home from prison, a reentry program inside Soledad State Prison, and an influential media department.
As per the Post, the organization was given $100,000 by the Los Angeles-based Resnick Foundation and $125,000 by the California Initiative. The donation from the Resnick Foundation, a charity controlled by billionaire couple Stewart and Lynda Resnick, was sent to Dignity and Power Now in January 2016, said a spokesman for the Resnick’s Wonderful Company.
The donation reportedly appears on the Resnick Foundation’s 2015 federal tax filings, which detail the group’s spending from October 2015 through September 2016. The California Initiative reportedly made two separate donations of $100,000 and $25,000 to Dignity and Power Now in 2016. The donations were reportedly filtered through Community Partners, a nonprofit that helps administer funds for grassroots charities.
The Post also reported that Dignity and Power Now additionally did not disclose the cash in its filings to the California Attorney General, which regulates charities in the state. “Dignity and Power Now registered with the Registry of Charitable Trusts in 2017, informing the registry that they first received funds in July of 2017,” read an emailed statement from the California Attorney General’s office.
On Friday, June 18, the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative group that “promotes ethics in public life through research, investigation, education and legal action,” filed complaints to both the IRS and the Attorney General in California demanding an audit of Dignity and Power Now’s finances. “The obvious question is what happened to the money,” said NLPC Chairman Peter Flaherty. “Given these circumstances, we believe that an audit is in order.
Cullors stepped down as executive director after a dispute over her $3 million property holdings. Cullors, who has led the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation for nearly six years, made the announcement on May 27. While she denounced a far-right smear campaign, she said that neither that nor recent criticism from other Black organizers influenced her decision to leave. She is reportedly quitting to focus on other projects. One of them includes the release of her second book and a multi-year TV development agreement with Warner Bros.