The Black Lives Matter movement has sparked an outpouring of more than $1 billion in corporate giving — and launched a wild scramble for the cash among a dozen BLM groups scattered across the country.
Some are for-profit, some are nonprofit but all are positioned to claim big bucks in corporate pledges from companies such as Bank of America, Walmart and Facebook.
Four are already in trouble with the IRS, according to public records.
They show that BLM charities in New York, Vermont, Florida and South Carolina have had their nonprofit status revoked by the IRS for failing to file annual returns.
There’s also confusion among the groups, along with a lack of transparency, which is alarming watchdogs.
Robert Ray Barnes, a music producer from California, incorporated the Black Lives Matter Foundation in California in May 2015, more than a year before BLM Global Network — the self-styled leader of the movement — was founded as a for-profit firm in Delaware, records show.
Some donors got the two mixed up.
Barnes, 67, who started his shoe-string outfit after a friend was gunned down by Los Angeles police in 2011, runs it from his home Santa Clarita. He’s the only employee.
He paid himself $24,000 to run the organization in 2017, the latest tax filings show. The charity took in $279,109 in 2017, and spent $189,000 on homeless services and producing a rap video to raise awareness of police violence in the black community.
But Barnes, who ended up marrying his friend’s widow and raising her two young children, nearly ended up with millions because some who wanted to give thought his organization was the nationally recognized Global Network.
“What appears to have happened to me is that when people searched for Black Lives Matter, the Global Network didn’t return anyone’s calls,” Barnes told The Post.
“So they thought I was the main group because I return all calls to my charity.”
Workers at Apple, Microsoft, Dropbox and Google halted their plans to give more than $4 million to Barnes’ group through online charity platforms last month after BuzzFeed reported the nonprofit did not represent the wider Black Lives Matter movement.
Barnes’s foundation got a further slap on the wrist weeks ago when New York’s Attorney General Letitia James demanded the group “cease solicitation” of New York donations because it had not registered as a charity in the state.
Barnes told The Post he had never asked for donations in New York. He said he now plans to fill out the necessary documents to register here.
Exactly how much BLM Global Network raises or spends — or pays its executives — is unknown because for-profits are not required to disclose such data, as nonprofits are.
It’s not to be confused with BLM Global Network Foundation, which was incorporated as a charity in 2017 but it does not have a federal tax exemption, records show
unspecified proceeds help fund the movement.It sells a host of merchandise, including T-shirts, masks and mugs, claiming that
Donations go through ActBlue Charities, an online fundraising platform that also collects money for progressive causes linked to the Democratic super PAC ActBlue.
In 2019, ActBlue raised more than $1 billion in online funds for Democratic candidates.
“What the ActBlue charity does with that [the Black Lives Matter] money is not entirely clear,” said Lloyd Mayer, an expert on nonprofit law at the University of Notre Dame’s Law School.
“The arrangement is not transparent.”
A spokesperson for ActBlue Charities said the group passes along contributions “directly to the receiving campaign or group.” Its website says that “Your contribution will benefit Black Lives Matter Support Fund at Tides Foundation,” a nonprofit that administers cash for other charities.
Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has said that it also works in conjunction with Thousand Currents, another nonprofit that helps grassroots organizations administer their donations.
Neither Thousand Currents nor BLM Global Network returned The Post’s calls or emails.
Experts say it’s not uncommon for fundraisers to set up for-profit companies that are not limited in what they can do, like charities are. But in order to raise money, the for-profit company must partner with a nonprofit.