Thursday, February 17, 2022

REPORT: Amazon Boots Black Lives Matter Off 'AmazonSmile' Amid Rising Scrutiny Over Group's Financial History

Source: Washington Examiner

Published: February 16, 2022

By:  Andrew Kerr

Amazon kicked Black Lives Matter off its charity platform AmazonSmile on Tuesday as the social justice organization faces intense scrutiny from multiple states over the status of its financial windfall from 2020.

The move deprives BLM of a major revenue source that has provided $306 million to U.S. charities and comes less than two years after Amazon itself donated $10 million to BLM and 11 other social justice groups amid the nationwide unrest spurred by George Floyd's killing.

“Charitable organizations must meet the requirements outlined in our participation agreement to be eligible for AmazonSmile," an Amazon representative told the Washington Examiner. "Among other eligibility requirements, organizations are required to be in good standing in their state of incorporation and in the states and territories where they are authorized to do business. Organizations that don’t meet the requirements listed in the agreement may have its eligibility suspended or revoked. Charities can request to be reinstated once they are back in good standing.”


BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, who resigned from BLM in May, said last Wednesday that the unaccounted millions her group received in 2020 came from "white corporation guilt."

"People have to know we didn't go out and solicit the money," Cullors said. "This is money that came from white guilt, white corporation guilt, and they just poured money in."

The Amazon spokesperson declined to clarify exactly how much Amazon donated to Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, the charity that serves as the face of the national BLM movement, in June 2020. The spokesperson also declined to clarify if the online retail giant has made any effort to verify whether BLM used its contribution for charitable purposes.

Amazon is the most prominent corporation to break from BLM publicly after having financially supported the group during the 2020 riots.

Intel pledged $1 million to a number of social justice groups, including BLM, in late May of 2020, but Intel spokeswoman Patricia Oliverio-Lauderdale told the Washington Examiner last week that the chipmaker ended up not providing any funding to BLM.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said his company committed $5 million to BLM and other social justice groups in June 2020, but Cisco never followed through on its leader's pledge to contribute to BLM, the Washington Post reported.

BLM voluntarily shut down its online fundraising on Feb. 2 after California and Washington issued legal threats to the group for its failure to report what it did with the millions it received during the second half of 2020. BLM published a report in February 2021 claiming to have ended 2020 with $60 million in its coffers.

As of Wednesday afternoon, BLM remains out of compliance in those states, as well as in New Jersey, North Carolina, Connecticut, Colorado, Maryland, Maine, and Virginia.

BLM said when it shut down its fundraising that it had engaged "compliance counsel" to get back in good standing with the states.

Filings reported by the Washington Examiner on Wednesday revealed that BLM recently retained the services of the law firm owned by prominent Democratic lawyer Marc Elias, who is best known for his funding of the discredited anti-Trump Steele dossier while he served as Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign general counsel. BLM also elevated longtime Clinton family confidant Minyon Moore to its board of directors, according to the filings.

In addition, BLM recently changed its 12-month accounting cycle to July through June, an unusual accounting maneuver that enabled the group to delay reporting what became of the millions it received during the second half of 2020 until May 2022. CharityWatch Executive Director Laurie Styron previously told the Washington Examiner that BLM's accounting period change was "the worst transparency issue" she's ever seen.

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