A group of 13 activists who volunteered for a failed charity that Black Lives Matter leader Shaun King started last year have penned an open letter taking him to task for suddenly shutting down the organization and for refusing to provide transparency for donations and spending.
“Shaun King has a history of organizational mismanagement which, left unaddressed, could damage the movement,” reads a letter from racial justice activists who had volunteered for the group Justice That’s All (JTA), a group King started in the weeks after the Aug. 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown.
King, a former pastor, has become one of the highest-profile activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. By leveraging his social media presence, King was hired as a social justice writer for the left-wing Daily Kos before landing a job at the New York Daily News.
There he’s written articles comparing George Washington to Adolf Hitler and calling David Clarke, Milwaukee County’s outspoken black sheriff, an “Uncle Tom.” (RELATED: Black Sheriff Responds To ‘Uncle Tom’ Taunt By New York Daily News Columnist And Black Lives Matter Activist)
While those outlandish statements and others have earned King scorn from the Right, it is his work on JTA and a similar group he founded to address police brutality in June called Justice Together which has angered his ex-supporters on the Left.
“He refused to specifically account for where donations went in any verifiable manner,” the activists asserted in their letter. “He used JTA’s organizational e-mail list to promote his book and solicit contributions for Justice Together. He dismissed people with legitimate criticism of his behavior as ‘trolls,’ to the point that one member presented him with a cease-and-desist letter demanding an end to character attacks.”
“We believe that King’s lack of transparency and accountability give rise to the appearance of impropriety and threaten to undermine the work we’ve accomplished,” the letter continues.
As The Daily Caller reported earlier this week, and as JTA volunteers note in their missive, King received donations for the group and claimed that he would be registering it as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations with the IRS. But as JTA’s volunteers point out, that never occurred. Nor does JTA appear to have ever been registered with any state as a nonprofit corporation, as many states require. (RELATED: Charities Touted By Shaun King Appear To Have Never Existed)
“King solicited contributions from JTA, which he explained would allow him to file for non-profit status. This was never done, and King unilaterally shut down JTA’s online collaboration team in December 2014,” they wrote.
Volunteers largely remained silent, however, until King suddenly announced earlier this month that he would be shuttering Justice Together, which, unlike JTA, was registered with the IRS and with the state of Georgia as a nonprofit corporation.
TheDC also reported that a claim King made in April 2013 that a media company he co-founded had set up an affiliated nonprofit foundation never actually occurred. King was quoted in interviews then saying that the nonprofit, called the Upfront Foundation, had been formed. But his business partner told TheDC that it was never actually formed.
King announced just hours after TheDC’s article was published that he would be returning all donations given to Justice That’s All and Justice Together. (RELATED: Shaun King Announces He’s Closing Charity And Will Return All Donations)
But on Thursday, King began posting a series of articles on Medium.com pushing back against allegations of fiscal mismanagement. He also sought to portray conservatives as being behind a campaign to smear him. He specifically referenced Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who discussed TheDC’s report on his show Tuesday.
Despite the attempt to blame conservatives, JTA volunteers’ letter, which followed a similar missive from scorned Justice Together volunteers published on Nov. 13, shows that it is King’s very own ex-allies who spilled the beans on his scandalous charity management.
Volunteers from both groups recognized a pattern in how King operated the projects.
“What is remarkable about [the Justice Together 30’s] letter is that the story is nearly identical to how JTA dissolved,” JTA volunteers wrote.
“We, too, self-organized while we waited for an absent King to collaborate with us on a framework to work from. We, too, had our organization shut down without warning, with the flimsy and patently untrue excuse given that the group had been infiltrated by ‘trolls,'” they added.
“The damage he has caused not once, but twice in two years now, is to squander the collective time, labor, energy, passion, and relationships created in the organizations he builds and then dismantles,” the continued, also accusing King of portraying the project as being “‘decentralized’ while keeping ultimate decision making power to himself.”
Such powers included “the ability to cut off members’ access to the organization’s online collaborative space, or the choice to withhold information about finances and accounting.”