In return for support, big tech funds the PAC and charities of the BLM co-founder.
Big Tech has showered millions of dollars in contributions on Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ political action committee and charities — and has censored her online opponents — as she supports their fight to dominate the internet.
Philanthropists with ties to Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix have contributed more than $7.5 million to a slew of non-profits run by Khan-Cullors, who has aided them in their campaign for “net neutrality.”
Net neutrality is a debate over who owns the Internet. Proponents, including human rights organizations, desire an open exchange of ideas and knowledge. They are concerned that content can be monopolized by phone and cable companies — Internet service providers — by their pricing and speed policies for content creators and consumers. Big technology companies, many of which still censor content with which they disagree, do not want ISPs to dominate the Internet — and their income.
Khan-Cullors, 37, started advocating for net neutrality in 2014, a year after co-founding the #blacklivesmatter campaign.
“The movement’s continued development and ability to react nimbly and efficiently to the harsh and biased policing of Black communities is contingent on access to a nondiscriminatory Internet,” she wrote in a December 2014 opinion piece for The Hill. Days later, advocacy organizations like the Black Lives Matter movement traveled to Capitol Hill to lobby representatives of the Federal Communications Commission and Congress on the subject. Cullors has delivered speeches in support of net neutrality and condemnation of ISPs.
“It is abundantly clear that discrimination is a profitable industry for telecommunications companies,” she wrote in her op-ed. “That is why they have assembled an unlikely coalition to fight an open and free Internet. The National Urban League, Jesse Jackson… Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Donald Trump, and Sen. Ted Cruz have joined up to create an unequal Internet in which Black voices will have to pay a premium to be heard.”
In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal an Obama-era law that upheld net neutrality. This move allowed ISPs to throttle or accelerate internet access and charge customers based on their data use. As a result of the move, several lawsuits have been filed, and Big Tech executives continue to push for legislation to preserve net neutrality.
Dustin Moskovitz, the billionaire co-founder of Facebook, and his wife Cari Tuna are major donors to Khan-Cullors-controlled organizations. According to public records, they donated more than $5.5 million between 2017 and 2020 through their non-profits Open Philanthropy and Good Ventures.
The money was donated to Khan-non-profit, Cullors’s Dignity and Power Now, and to Reform LA Jails, a California state political action committee she co-founded to advocate for civilian oversight of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
While Moscovitz left Facebook in 2008, he retains a 2% stake in the firm, which Forbes estimates accounts for his nearly $20 billion net worth.
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, was also a significant donor to Khan-Cullors-affiliated movements. In 2020, the tech billionaire donated $1.5 million to Black Lives Matter and M4BL, a network of anti-capitalist advocacy groups formed by Khan-Cullors. Dorsey made several contributions in support of the Clara Lionel Foundation, a charity established by singer Rihanna.
Patricia Ann Quillin, the wife of Netflix co-founder and billionaire Reed Hastings, contributed $250,000 to Reform LA Jails in 2020, according to public filings.
Reform LA Jails distributed $346,558 — more than a quarter of its budget — a year earlier to companies owned by Khan-Cullors and her husband, as well as to writer Asha Bandele and Damon Turner, the father of her young son, according to campaign finance reports obtained by The Post.
According to the filings, the largest payout — $173,558 — went to Bandele, a Brooklyn-based co-writer of Khan-Cullors’ 2018 memoir “When They Call You a Terrorist.”
Turner, a rapper and musician, received $63,500 from the PAC through Trap Heals LLC, an entertainment and apparel business he owns in Los Angeles. The majority of the funds were spent on “campaign consultants,” with an additional $11,000 on “information technology expenses (Internet, e-mail).”
The PAC chaired by Khan-Cullors paid $110,000 in 2019 to Janaya and Patrisse Consulting, a business owned by Khan-Cullors and her wife Janaya Khan. Additionally, it charged $10,000 to Khan-non-profit, Cullors’s Dignity and Power Now, for “polling and survey studies.”
While PACs are not permitted to be used for personal expenses, there are no restrictions on officers of a California PAC compensating themselves or family members for consulting services.
“In a nutshell, campaign contributions can be used only for what is generally referred to as PLG (political, legislative, or governmental purposes),” explained Jay Wierenga, communications director for the California Fair Political Practices Commission. “An expenditure that results in a significant personal gain for any entity approved to approve the committee’s expenses… must be specifically linked to a political, legislative, or governmental purpose.”
Restructuring Last year, LA Jails successfully campaigned for a ballot measure requiring the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to expand its medical services and increase civilian oversight. Between January and September 2019, the campaign received support from celebrities, including actress Natalie Portman, and raised $1,398,389 in donations.
Dorsey, Hastings, and other social media executives have donated millions to criminal justice reform, but they have also been vocal advocates for net neutrality, lobbying legislators for years to pass pro-net neutrality legislation.
Along with financial support, social media giants have censored alleged critiques of Khan-Cullors and the BLM campaign, including a report originally reported by The Post about the activist’s recent $3.2 million real estate purchases. Facebook blocked users from connecting to the article — which was based on public records — earlier this month, claiming it violated the company’s “privacy and personal information policies.” When journalist Jason Whitlock attempted to post an article about Khan-Cullors’ $1.4 million Los Angeles home purchase earlier this month, Twitter blocked him.
A conservative government watchdog group charged that Big Tech firms effectively bribed the BLM leadership to do their bidding.
“Is Black Lives Matter available for rent?” asked Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center. “Charities are not intended to be platforms for corporate lobbying, particularly on issues unrelated to the charity’s mission.”
According to a spokesperson for Tuna and Moskovitz’s Open Philanthropy, they have made no grants related to net neutrality, “either to Patrisse Cullors or to some other organizations or individuals.”
“Our advocacy for Patrisse-affiliated organizations has been integral to our work on criminal justice reform,” communications director Michael Levine said.
Cullors, Black Lives Matter, Dorsey’s #startsmall campaign, Netflix, the Clara Lionel Foundation, and Rihanna’s representatives did not respond to requests for comment.