Is BLM Being Used to Funnel Illegal Donations to the Democratic Party?

June 10, 2020

3 min read

Through a backdoor loophole, donations given to Black Lives Matter for fighting racism may actually be ending up in the coffers of Democratic candidates strapped for cash. But when pressed for answers, the outspoken BLM leaders go strangely silent.

Black Lives Matter claims to be an international human rights movement that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people. It began in 2013 with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012. The movement became nationally recognized for street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African Americans: Michael Brown—resulting in protests and unrest in Ferguson, a city near St. Louis—and Eric Garner in New York City.

Espousing what is described as a “group-centered model of leadership”, BLM is distinct from the older charismatic leadership of civil rights movements. It claims to reject middle-class traditions, church involvement, Democratic Party loyalty, and respectability politics.

BLM has frequently clashed with the mainstream Democratic party, most notably when they disrupted a speech by Bernie Sanders in August 2015 when he was vying for the Democratic presidential candidacy. 

However, this non-partisan issue-based status appears to be a flimsy sham. On the Black Lives Matter official website, clicking on the ‘donation’ button redirects you to the donation webpage of Act Blue, albeit with a banner identifying it as Black Lives Matter. The site’s address, contribution rules, 501 (c) (3) statement, and terms and conditions all identify the site as belonging to Act Blue. 

ActBlue is a nonprofit technology organization established in June 2004 that enables Democrats, progressive groups, and nonprofits to raise money on the Internet by providing them with online fundraising software. ActBlue claims to be independent of the Democratic Party itself and does not endorse individual candidates though Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns used ActBlue for contributions in both 2016 and 2020. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has also used ActBlue for fundraising. In the 2018 midterms elections, ActBlue raised $1.6 billion for Democratic candidates.

In March, Fox News noted that a contributing factor to Democratic success in the 2018 midterm elections was the party’s ability to take in online small-dollar donations through their platform ActBlue. 

ActBlue has several disclaimers that allow them to keep funds for their own purposes if the recipient does not cash or otherwise rejects the donation. Most of this money goes to campaign contributions. This default can be used as a loophole to redirect contributions from sources and in amounts not normally allowed for campaign contributions. 

This means that people who donate to BLM, in the hopes of achieving racial justice are having their money rerouted to Democratic politicians through ActBlue.

This is also problematic as according to IRS law, “501 (c) (3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.”

By allowing the 60-day clause to lapse and not collecting the money donated to them, BLM can effectively bypass IRS laws and funnel money to Democratic candidates that would not otherwise be allowed.

These issues were raised on Monday in a  Reddit AMA, Kailee Scales, the Managing director of BLM in which she refused to answer questions about where and how the money received from donations was being used. The questions became persistent and the moderator was forced to shut down the session. 


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