Black Lives Matter Hemorrhaged Cash in 2022, Tax Documents Show

BLM cofounder Patrisse Cullors / Getty Images
May 23, 2023

Black Lives Matter bled cash and suffered blistering investment losses in 2022, according to a copy of its tax return obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation ran an $8.5 million deficit and saw the value of its investment accounts plummet by nearly $10 million in the most recent tax year, financial disclosures show. The group logged a $961,000 loss on a securities sale of $172,000, suggesting the charity weathered a staggering 85 percent loss on the transaction. These troubles didn’t stop BLM from doling out seven-figure contracts to friends and family of its former executive director Patrisse Cullors, who once said charity financial disclosures were "triggering" and "deeply unsafe."

It’s no surprise that Cullors was so fearful of disclosing Black Lives Matter’s finances to the public. The revelations in Black Lives Matter’s latest Form 990 show that the group is on the fast track to financial insolvency, and that the excesses of Cullors’s tenure have not abated under her chosen successor, Shalomyah Bowers.

The financial losses come after a year of missteps and setbacks for the embattled charity. BLM raised just $9.3 million in its 2022 fiscal year, down 88 percent from its haul the year prior. Black Lives Matter was forced to shut off its online fundraising streams in February 2022 due to compliance and transparency issues in several liberal states. The group has blown through two-thirds of the $90 million it raised in the wake of George Floyd’s death in the summer of 2020.

BLM spent about $12 million of those funds on luxury homes in Los Angeles and Toronto. That profligacy did not abate in the 2022 fiscal year, when the charity dropped more than $10.5 million on contractors, much of which went to companies linked to Cullors’s friends and family.

Cullors’s brother, Paul Cullors, made out especially well. A graffiti artist with no prior experience as a bodyguard, Paul Cullors and his two companies raked in $1.6 million providing "professional security services" for Black Lives Matter in 2022. Paul Cullors was also one of BLM’s only two paid employees during the year, collecting a $126,000 salary as "head of security" on top of his consulting fees.

Black Lives Matter disclosed last May it had paid Paul Cullors a comparatively meager $841,000 to protect the charity’s swanky $6 million Los Angeles mansion in its 2021 tax year, which Patrisse Cullors used to film herself baking peach cobblers. The charity told the Associated Press it could not entrust its security to the former police officers that staff typical private protection firms.

"While Patrisse Cullors was forced to resign due to charges of using BLM's funds for her personal use, it looks like she's still keeping it all in the family," said Paul Kamenar, an attorney for the National Legal and Policy Center watchdog group.

Bowers, the Black Lives Matter board member and close friend of Cullors, hauled in a hefty bounty during the charity’s 2022 tax year. Black Lives Matter paid his company, Bowers Consulting, $1.7 million for management and consulting services.

Bowers’s management of Black Lives Matter earned him few friends in the movement. Black Lives Matter Grassroots, a former sister organization of Black Lives Matter, accused Bowers of "blazing a path of irreparable harm to BLM" by treating the charity as his personal piggy bank.

"His actions have led [Black Lives Matter] into multiple investigations by the Internal Revenue Service and various state attorney generals," the lawsuit stated. "Instead of using the donations for its intended purposes, Mr. Bowers diverted these donations to his own coffers and intentionally took calculated steps to prevent those same resources from being used by BLM for on-the-ground movement work."

The sister of former Black Lives Matter board member Raymond Howard brought in a seven-figure consulting fee as well. BLM paid Danielle Edwards’s firm, New Impact Partners, $1.1 million for consulting services in 2022.

Black Lives Matter also agreed to pay an additional $600,000 to an unidentified former board member’s consulting firm "in connection with a contract dispute," the charity disclosed in its audited financial statements.

Notably absent from Black Lives Matter’s 2022 tax return is any mention of Trap Heals, the art firm run by the father of Cullors’s only child, Damon Turner. BLM paid $969,000 to Trap Heals in 2021, and the two companies were identified as partners in press reports well into BLM’s 2022 tax year. Charities are only required to disclose the names of their five highest compensated independent contractors.

It’s unclear if Black Lives Matter paid out lucrative contracting fees to Cullors’s friends and family past June 2022. The charity brought on a new board of directors last summer led by nonprofit adviser Cicley Gay, who has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy three times since 2005.

Black Lives Matter did not return a request for comment.