The recently disclosed tax documents reveal that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) has disbursed millions in contracts to individuals closely associated with the organization’s leadership and their relatives. According to tax records, the prominent BLM entity authorized substantial agreements with companies owned by insiders from July 2022 to June 2023. This allocation of charitable resources to personal enterprises linked to key figures within the organization has sparked significant ethical apprehensions due to the absence of proper supervision and the potential for conflicting interests.

“Whether a person loves this charity’s mission or hates it, they should be angry that significant amounts of charitable dollars are being channeled to interested parties without adequate oversight in place,” Charity Watch Executive Director Laurie Styron said. “Charities are expected to avoid both real and perceived conflicts of interest to maintain public trust. This charity is doing the opposite. The optics here are really, really bad.”

The lack of independent oversight within BLMGNF is a concern due to the small size of the charity’s board, which makes it difficult to effectively prevent the misuse of funds by those in leadership positions. According to tax filings, the organization paid the consulting firm BOWERS* nearly $2.6 million for “staffing and management services.” Shalomyah Bowers, who is the secretary of the charity’s board, owns at least 35% of that firm and also serves as the treasurer of Black Lives Matter PAC.

In 2023, Bowers directed the majority of the PAC’s expenditures towards paying his firm for “strategic consulting services.” Additionally, BLMGNF’s head of security, Paul Cullors, who is the brother of co-founder Patrisse Cullors, owns at least 35% of Black Ties LLC, as per tax filings. The organization paid out $1.6 million to that firm for “professional security services.” Despite spending a significant amount on private security, BLMGNF has advocated for cities to defund their police departments on its website.

“We call for a national defunding of police,” the BLM website reads. “We demand investment in our communities and the resources to ensure Black people not only survive, but thrive.”

New Impact Partners, a consulting firm owned by Danielle Edwards, who is the sister of BLMGNF director of operations Raymond Howard, received $913,500 for providing “consulting services,” as indicated in tax forms. Additionally, BLMGNF made payments totaling approximately $780,000 to “Trap Heals,” a company managed by Damon Turner, who shares a child with Patrisse Cullors, for services related to “live production, design, and media.”

“Charities are not supposed to act as money conduits for for-profit businesses and individuals,” Doug White, a nonprofit ethics expert said. “Based on this, the people, all close to the founder, seem like grifters—and at the expense of the public.”

White stated that BLMGNF contract payments have the potential to be categorized as “private inurement,” indicating that funds might be utilized for the personal gain of individuals within the organization instead of furthering legitimate charitable endeavors. This situation could jeopardize the foundation’s charitable standing.

“I have sympathy for the cause—the search for equality is a good thing, in my view, as well as the group’s other goals—but the delivery apparatus for a cause—a nonprofit—has to honor its obligations to the public,” he added.

In 2023, BLMGNF faced a significant financial deficit of over $6 million, as revealed in its tax filings. These filings also highlighted a concerning pattern of payments made to individuals closely associated with the organization. The Washington Free Beacon reported that during the 2022 tax filing period, BLMGNF awarded lucrative contracts to companies connected to cofounder Patrisse Cullors’s acquaintances and family members. Furthermore, BLMGNF utilized charitable funds to acquire a lavish $6 million mansion in Los Angeles.

Additionally, another nonprofit organization led by Patrisse Cullors, Reform LA Jails, was found to have spent charitable funds at a luxury resort in 2019.