Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has sued the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation as part of his investigation into whether donations from state residents were used for legitimate purposes and not the group leadership’s “personal benefit.”
The lawsuit filed Tuesday seeks a court order requiring the group to respond to a civil investigative demand issued in February, the same month that the Republican attorney general opened the probe.
“Protecting Indiana consumers from this house of cards is critical,” Mr. Rokita said in a statement Thursday. “There are concerning patterns of behavior from this organization, and we will do what it takes—including this lawsuit—to get to the bottom of it.”
The nonprofit foundation has drawn criticism over a lack of transparency surrounding its massive fundraising, as well as reports of pricey real-estate purchases by its leaders, including former executive director Patrisse Cullors, a self-described “trained Marxist.”
In its 2020 impact report, the BLM foundation said it raised $90 million, spent $8.4 million on operating expenses, and donated $21.7 million to local groups, spurring questions about where the rest of the money went.
Earlier this month, New York Magazine revealed that BLM leaders bought a $6 million mansion in Los Angeles in October 2020, which the organization described as a “campus.” Ms. Cullors has reportedly purchased four properties in the last few years totaling $3.2 million.
Last year, BLM issued a statement saying that Ms. Cullors did not receive a salary for her work and that no organizational resources were used to buy personal property for employees or volunteers.
Mr. Rokita said that among the local groups receiving BLM foundation grants was an affiliated chapter in South Bend, Indiana.
“However, an IRS filing by BLM for the first half of 2020 listed the organization had $0 in revenue, expenses, and assets held by BLM for the time period,” said the Indiana attorney general’s office.
The investigation seeks to determine whether the donated funds were “used for their intended purpose and not for the personal benefit of BLM directors,” which could represent a violation of the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act or the Indiana Nonprofit Corporation Act.
“Under Indiana law, failure to comply with the civil investigative demand could result in sanctions against the entity, including barring the entity from any future fundraising in Indiana, among other possible remedies,” said the attorney general’s office.
The South Bend BLM chapter said it was “fully cooperating with the investigation and [has] been in communication with the Attorney General’s office since March,” according to the Indianapolis Business Journal.
“Please rest assured that no member of this organization has engaged in self-dealing, and we have used all of our resources to improve our community,” said the South Bend chapter. “We know that accountability and transparency are important to all who support our work.”
The Indiana Democratic Party accused Mr. Rokita of pursuing a “partisan agenda” with his investigation into the social-justice group, which was flooded with donations following the May 2020 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
“Todd Rokita’s lawsuit against Black Lives Matter has little to do with the law itself and more to do with a national partisan agenda,” said the party statement on Fox59 in Indianapolis. “If Rokita really did care about the rule of law, he wouldn’t have supported the Indiana GOP’s effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and he would hold Republican leaders accountable for breaking election laws – neither of which have happened.”
BLM has run into problems in other states. In February, the foundation was out of compliance in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington over its failure to report its 2020 finances, according to the Washington Examiner.
The organization also reportedly switched from a 12-month to a July-to-June IRS accounting cycle, meaning that it has until mid-May to account for the millions collected in the second half of 2020.
“There are many Indiana stakeholders and donors who have been impacted by these allegations,” Mr. Rokita said. “This lawsuit will allow for a court to swiftly and efficiently resolve the state’s request for information.”
The Washington Times has reached out to BLM for comment.
The Indianapolis BLM chapter is part of the BLM10+, a coalition of unaffiliated organizations critical of the foundation. The group has asked donors to contribute directly to local chapters instead of the network.