Sunday, April 25, 2021

How racist is a society that lets Black Lives Matter leader to profit so handsomely?

Big tech bankrolls BLM co-founder’s PAC, charities in exchange for support

Big Tech has showered Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ PAC and charities with millions in donations — and censors her online critics — as she backs their battle to control the internet.

Philanthropists linked to Facebook, Twitter and Netflix have donated more than $7.5 million to a host of non-profits controlled by Khan-Cullors, who has helped them lobby for “net neutrality.”

The issue of net neutrality is about who controls the Internet. Proponents, including human rights groups, want a free flow of views and information. They fear content can be controlled by phone and cable companies — the Internet service providers — in how they set fees and speeds for content producers and users. Big Tech firms, many of which already engage in censoring content they don’t agree with, don’t want ISPs to control the Internet — and their profits.

Dustin Moskovitz
Dustin Moskovitz, a billionaire co-founder of Facebook, is one of the biggest donors to groups controlled by Khan-Cullors.
Eric Risberg

Khan-Cullors, 37, began lobbying for net neutrality in 2014, a year after she co-founded the Black Lives Matter movement with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. 

“The continued growth of this movement and its capacity to respond nimbly and effectively to the brutal and biased policing of Black communities depends, in part, on access to a non-discriminatory Internet,” she wrote in an opinion piece for The Hill in December 2014. Days later, activist groups including BLM traveled to Capitol Hill to lobby members of the Federal Communications Commission and Congress on the issue. Cullors has given speeches espousing net neutrality and denouncing ISPs. 

“Telecommunications companies are very clear that discrimination is a lucrative business,” she wrote in her op-ed. “That’s why they’ve lined up seemingly strange bedfellows to oppose an open and free Internet. Jesse Jackson, the National Urban League … Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz have teamed up to change the Internet to an unequal one in which Black voices may have to pay more to be heard.”

Jack Dorsey
Jack Dorsey gave $1.5 million in 2020 through his #startsmall philanthropy initiative to Black Lives Matter and M4B.

In 2017, the FCC voted to reverse an Obama-era law that protected net neutrality. That change allowed ISPs to slow down or speed up access to the internet, and charge customers based on their data usage. The change resulted in myriad lawsuits as Big Tech executives continue to lobby for legislation to protect net neutrality.

Dustin Moskovitz, a billionaire co-founder of Facebook, and his wife Cari Tuna, are among the biggest donors to groups controlled by Khan-Cullors. Through their Open Philanthropy and Good Ventures non-profits, they contributed more than $5.5 million between 2017 and 2020, according to public records. 

The cash went to Dignity and Power Now, a non-profit started by Khan-Cullors, and Reform LA Jails, a California state political action committee she co-founded to lobby for civilian oversight of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department.

Netflix founder Reed Hastings
Netflix founder Reed Hastings has given millions to criminal justice reform.

Although Moscovitz left Facebook in 2008, he retains a 2 percent interest in the company, which accounts for his nearly $20 billion net worth, according to Forbes

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was also a big donor to movements linked to Khan-Cullors. The tech billionaire gave $1.5 million in 2020 through his #startsmall philanthropy initiative to Black Lives Matter and M4BL, a coalition of anti-capitalist activist groups founded by Khan-Cullors. Some of Dorsey’s donations were made in connection with the Clara Lionel Foundation, a charity founded by singer Rihanna. 

Patty Quillin
Patty Quillin donated $250,000 to Reform LA Jails in 2020.
Drew Altizer/

Patricia Ann Quillin, the wife of billionaire Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, donated $250,000 to Reform LA Jails in 2020, public filings show.

A year earlier, Reform LA Jails doled out $346,558 — more than a quarter of its budget — to companies controlled by Khan-Cullors and her wife, as well as to writer Asha Bandele and Damon Turner, the father of her young son, according to the PAC’s campaign finance statements obtained by The Post.

The largest payments —$173,558 — went to Bandele, the Brooklyn-based co-writer of “When They Call You a Terrorist,” Khan-Cullors’ 2018 memoir, according to the filings.

The PAC paid $63,500 to Turner, a rapper and artist, through Trap Heals LLC, an LA-based entertainment and clothing company he controls. Most of the cash went to “campaign consultants,” with $11,000 going to “information technology costs (Internet, e-mail).”

Janaya Future Khan
Janaya Future Khan
Getty Images

The PAC chaired by Khan-Cullors paid Janaya and Patrisse Consulting, a company controlled by Khan-Cullors and her wife Janaya Khan, $110,000 as “campaign consultants” in 2019, filings show. It also paid Dignity and Power Now, a non-profit founded by Khan-Cullors, $10,000 for “polling and survey research.”

Although PACs are not to be used for personal expenses, there are no rules prohibiting officers of a California PAC from paying themselves or family members for consulting services.

“In a nutshell, campaign funds may only be used for what we commonly refer to as PLG (a political, legislative or governmental purpose),” said Jay Wierenga, the communications director of Fair Political Practices Commission in California. “An expenditure that confers a substantial personal benefit on any individual who is authorized to approve the committee’s expenditures… must be directly related to a political legislative, or governmental purpose.”

Patrisse Cullors and Damon Turner
Patrisse Cullors and Damon Turner
Getty Images

Reform LA Jails waged a successful campaign for a ballot initiative for improved psychiatric care and increased civilian oversight of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department last year. The movement was supported by celebrities, including actress Natalie Portman, and took in $1,398,389 in contributions between January and September 2019.

Dorsey, Hastings and other social-media executives have given millions to criminal justice reform, but they have also been keen proponents of net neutrality — lobbying lawmakers for years to adopt pro-net neutrality legislation.

In addition to providing cash, social-media giants have censored perceived criticisms of Khan-Cullors and the BLM movement, including a story first published by The Post about the activist’s recent $3.2 million in real estate purchases. Facebook earlier this month blocked its users from linking to the story — which was based on public records — saying it violated its “privacy and personal information policy.” Twitter blocked journalist Jason Whitlock when he tried to post a story about Khan-Cullors’ purchase of a $1.4 million Los Angeles home earlier this month.

A conservative government watchdog group accused Big Tech companies of essentially paying off the BLM leadership to do its bidding.

“Is Black Lives Matter for rent?” said Peter Flaherty, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center. “Charities are not supposed to be vehicles for corporate lobbying, particularly on matters outside the charity’s mission.”

A spokesman for Tuna and Moskovitz’s’ Open Philanthropy told The Post that they had not made any grants related to net neutrality, “whether to Patrisse Cullors or any other organizations or individuals.”

“All of our support for groups affiliated with Patrisse has been part of our work on criminal justice reform,” said communications director Michael Levine. 

Reps for Cullors; Black Lives Matter; Dorsey’s #startsmall initiative; Netflix; the Clara Lionel Foundation, and Rihanna did not return requests for comment. 

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