Shaun King fired back at critics on Saturday with a blog post threatening legal action against “every person and outlet” who has reported that he misappropriated money he’s helped raise for the Black Lives Matter movement, though the New York Daily News columnist’s lengthy post avoids addressing many of the complaints leveled against him.
King — who was prompted to post his response on Medium.com after being contacted by a CNN reporter — did not provide names of those he plans to sue, but most of his ire was aimed at Goldie Taylor, a progressive activist and editor at The Daily Beast.
Earlier this month Taylor wrote an article entitled “Where Did All The Money Shaun King Raised For Black Lives Go?” which borrowed heavily from The Daily Caller’s reporting on King’s past charity work. (RELATED: Charities Touted By Black Lives Matter Activist Shaun King Appear To Not Have Existed)
“How much money was definitely raised and how much of it was actually received by its stated and intended beneficiaries? Did King use his growing prominence as a fundraiser for social causes to enrich himself?” Taylor asked.
King called Taylor’s report “a deliberate lie to smear me and this movement.” He has not specifically responded to TheDC’s reporting.
Taylor’s article came on the heels of a high-profile Twitter spat between King and two prominent Black Lives Matter activists, Deray McKesson and Johnetta Elzie. McKesson questioned King’s “integrity” after he said that King had blocked him when he began asking questions about donations given to a non-profit social justice organization called Justice Together, on which McKesson had served as a board member. (RELATED: Black Lives Matter Activists Go At It Over Charity Donations)
Elzie accused King of being “so shady.”
King’s allies began questioning his activities after he shut down Justice Together with little warning last month.
The former Atlanta-based pastor also announced that he was returning donations given to that organization and another non-profit he founded last year called Justice That’s All. But though King touts that decision as a proactive measure, he announced it mere hours after TheDC’s expose was published.
King has maintained that the complaints raised against him originated with white supremacists and conservative news outlets, but King’s former allies and volunteers have long fumed about the activist’s handling of the organizations he’s started. Besides McKesson, many volunteers and donors claimed that they were blocked when they asked King about donations to the charities and about how the money was spent.
In his article, King claims to have published what he says is a “complete accounting” of every dollar he’s raised “throughout the Black Lives Matter movement.”
The list includes the family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and Bree Newsome, the activist who removed a Confederate flag flying above the South Carolina state house in June. King’s list also includes dollar amounts raised for each campaign and endorsements from family members and activists involved in the efforts.
But King largely avoids answering serious questions about the entities he’s formed over the years. One of those questions concerns Justice That’s All’s charity registration. TheDC could find no state or federal registration records for the organization, though King began raising money on the group’s now-defunct website last year.
And in a bit of sleight-of-hand in his recent article, King appears to lump Justice Together and Justice That’s All together as one entity. He wrote Saturday:
I started a 501c3 called Justice Together. It was a noble idea to bring together tens of thousands of people from all over the world, virtually, who are disgusted by police brutality but don’t really know what to do about it.
Since August of 2014, we raised $25,580.
Justice Together is a properly registered 501c3. The federal EIN/tax ID # is: 47–3708562. We will file our taxes in 2016 and issue a public report.
While Justice Together is indeed registered with the IRS and in the state of Georgia, where King has lived, Justice That’s All was not. And IRS records show that King registered Justice Together in July 2015, nearly a year after he started Justice That’s All.
That indicates that though King seems to consider the organizations to be one entity, they were not conceived that way. On top of that, most states require non-profits to register as charities before they start soliciting donations, raising questions over whether King was illegally soliciting donations.
TheDC also found that King made inconsistent statements about charitable work being conducted by a social media company he co-founded in 2012. In 2013, King claimed that the company, Upfront Media, would be sending a portion of its revenue to an affiliated charity it had started called Upfront Foundation.
But TheDC spoke to King’s business partner, Upfront CEO Ray Lee, who admitted that Upfront Foundation was never actually started.
TheDC also interviewed three users of a King-founded online fundraising company called HopeMob. The HopeMob users told TheDC that it took them months to obtain the funds they raised through the crowdsourcing platform. They said that King failed to respond to their complaints and requests for funds, but that they finally received their money after April 2014, which is when King left the company.
As Taylor wrote: “HopeMob’s finances were murky at best.”
Taylor responded on Twitter Sunday to King’s threat to sue for defamation.
“Bring it,” she wrote.
Bring it. https://t.co/E3umxNv2sJ
— Goldie Taylor (@goldietaylor) December 27, 2015