Shaun King’s Charity Fundraising Comes Under More Scrutiny

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

Black Lives Matter activist and New York Daily News columnist Shaun King is fielding yet more criticism about his fundraising efforts for charities he’s started over the years, this time from prominent progressive political activist Goldie Taylor.

“It’s time to clear the record,” Taylor wrote of King in a column for The Daily Beast. “Unless and until he does, King’s credibility as a social justice leader of any note hangs in the balance.”

Taylor’s public smackdown comes just days after two prominent Black Lives Matter organizers, Deray McKesson and Johnette Elzie, slammed King on Twitter for failing to answer questions about his fundraising. McKesson had served on the board of Justice Together, King’s latest project. He stepped down last month after King drastically scaled back the organization. (RELATED: Black Lives Matter Activists GO AT IT Over Defunct Charity)

As Taylor notes in her piece, she has “long been aware” of questions many have raised about how King manages charitable donations.

“I have groused privately about the veracity of some of his reporting and whether his body of writing met the publishing standards that so many in this business work under,” she added. “I heard the whispers, the back room talk from people who did not want to be seen as ‘racist’ or acting like ‘crabs in the barrel’ for criticizing King.”

King shuttered Justice Together completely last month, just hours after The Daily Caller published an expose showing that the columnist-activist has made a number of inconsistent statements about charities he’s started. (RELATED: Charities Touted By Black Lives Matter Activist Shaun King Appear To Never Have Existed)

In the case of one of those organizations, Justice That’s All, King began soliciting donations just after Michael Brown’s death and said that the money would be used to pay for the social justice group’s tax-exempt filings with the IRS.

But despite accepting an unknown amount of money, King never registered the group as a charity with any state, as he would have been required to do. He also did not register it with the IRS. King shut down Justice That’s All’s operations last December. He returned donations given to both group’s just after TheDC’s report.

As with Justice Together, Justice That’s All volunteers and donors felt like their work had gone for naught. Many, including McKesson, claimed that King ceased operations with no warning and blocked people who asked him about donations and expenditures.

In her critique of King, Taylor asserted that “in case after case, time after time the most compelling and recurring theme is transparency.”

“What is necessary now is a laying out of the books,” Taylor suggested.

Taylor cited a number of other suspicious King efforts, including a fundraiser he started in 2011 called A Home for Haiti. King has claimed he raised $1 million for the charity, which was set up to provide relief following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. But as Taylor notes, the charity that King raised money for later said that it received a grant of only $200,000.

A year later, King created HopeMob, a fundraising website similar to Kickstarter and GoFundMe. That organization used the same federal tax ID as A Home in Haiti.

HopeMob’s 2013 tax filing shows that the organization brought in just over $420,000. King was paid $160,000 in total compensation while the charity handed out 136 grants totaling $198,787.

Several HopeMob users who had filed complaints about HopeMob told TheDC that they had struggled to obtain payouts for their fundraising campaigns. All three users said that they ultimately received their money just after King left the company.

“King can and must open his records, stretching back to his disaster relief efforts for Atlanta and Haiti, for independent inspection,” Taylor wrote in her essay, noting that donations to many of King’s charities were routed through his PayPal account.

“When it’s over, he should publish that report online,” Taylor advised.

King has also made false claims about a charity that was associated with a social media company he co-founded called Upfront Media. King said in interviews in 2013 that the company was sending a portion of its revenues to Upfront Foundation. But the company’s CEO told TheDC in a phone interview that the charity side was never actually created.

That raises uncomfortable questions for King, who has covered dozens of cases that have been the focus of Black Lives Matter activists.

As Taylor puts it: “Shaun King is very good at raising money in support of black lives and — one of those lives might be his own.”

Follow Chuck on Twitter