AG Rokita sues Black Lives Matter, accuses group of not handing over financial documents

Keywords Law / Lawsuits / Politics
  • Comments
  • Print
Todd Rokita

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is suing the global chapter of Black Lives Matter for what he says is noncompliance with his office’s request for financial documents and tax information.

In a Thursday news release, Rokita’s office announced the lawsuit is part of an investigation launched in February into how the organization was using donations from Hoosiers.

The office claims the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation published a report in 2020 that said it had raised more than $90 million, with more than $21 million of that going to 30 local chapters, including one in South Bend. But Rokita’s office said an IRS filing by the organization for the first half of 2020 listed the organization had reported zero in revenue, expenses, and assets.

The attorney general’s office in February had requested information and documents from the organization to “ensure transparency to donors and guarantee funds donated by Indiana residents are used for their intended purpose and not for the personal benefit of BLM directors,” according to the release. Black Lives Matter never responded to that request, so Rokita filed the lawsuit with the intent to force the organization to comply.

“Protecting Indiana consumers from this house of cards is critical,” Rokita said in a written statement.  “There are concerning patterns of behavior from this organization, and we will do what it takes—including this lawsuit—to get to the bottom of it.”

In a written response to the lawsuit, the South Bend BLM chapter said it was “fully cooperating with the investigation and have been in communication with the Attorney General’s office since March. Any reports that may suggest otherwise about our chapter are untrue. We have worked tirelessly for our South Bend community and have taken steps to avoid unnecessary distractions that might divert us away from our community work.

“Please rest assured that no member of this organization has engaged in self-dealing, and we have used all of our resources to improve our community. We know that accountability and transparency are important to all who support our work. In our mission to serve our community, we believe it is best to cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation by providing what his office requested in their fact-finding venture.

“We have nothing to hide and we will not be derailed. It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win.”

The Indiana Democratic Party released a statement calling Rokita’s suit a “partisan stunt.”

“Todd Rokita’s lawsuit against Black Lives Matter has little to do with the law itself and more to do with a national partisan agenda,” spokesperson Drew Anderson said in written remarks. “If Rokita really did care about the rule of law, he wouldn’t have supported the Indiana GOP’s effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election AND he would hold Republican leaders accountable for breaking election laws—neither of which have happened. Rokita consistently shows the Indiana GOP has no plan for the state’s future—just partisanship.

Indiana is not alone in threatening legal action against the Black Lives Matter global chapter. In January, California and Washington threatened legal action and ordered Black Lives Matter to stop collecting donations, saying the organization failed to submit its charity tax filings in both states. The organization has since taken down donation pages from its website.

In early February, Rokita began publicly questioning the finances of Black Lives Matter in interviews with Fox News and the Washington Examiner. His various remarks were in response to reports from the Washington Examiner and New York Magazine that the organization’s finances were “murky” and leaders were not transparent on who is in charge of $60 million it claimed was in its bank accounts.

“It appears that the house of cards may be falling, and this happens eventually with nearly every scam, scheme, or illegal enterprise,” Rokita told the Examiner in a February interview.

Rokita also told Fox News at that time that Indiana was “going to pick up this matter and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

17 thoughts on “AG Rokita sues Black Lives Matter, accuses group of not handing over financial documents

  1. Has Attorney General Toad Rokita also requested information and documents from various Trump and Republican organizations to “ensure (similar) transparency to donors and guarantee funds donated by Indiana residents are used for their intended purpose and not for the personal benefit of Donald J. Trump?

    On July 21, 2020 Forbes reported that Trump had not given a dime to his reelection campaign, opting instead to fund the entire effort with his donors’ money. His business, meanwhile, continued to charge the campaign for things like food, lodging and rent. The result is that $2.2 million of contributions from other people has turned into $2.2 million of revenue for Trump.

    The Forbes report pointedly stated “that’s just counting the money flowing directly through the president’s campaign. His reelection apparatus also includes two joint fundraising committees, which work with the Republican Party to raise money for Trump. Since he took office, those entities—named Trump Victory and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee—have funneled another $2.3 million into the president’s private business, according to a review of Federal Election Commission records. Then there’s the Republican National Committee, which has spent an additional $2.4 million at Trump properties. Add it all up, and the president, working in concert with the party he leads, has helped push $6.9 million into his businesses since taking office.”

    If Rokita is serious about the issue of transparency and integrity, he then should also open an investigation to Trumpworld. There is a lot there which needs explaining.

    1. Just because Rokita is selectively partisan – which seems apparant – doesn’t invalidate the investigation that is proceeding; The crime (if any was committed) would be worse than the hyprocracy.

      That said, a press release, not over an indictment, but over a suit to gather information to investigate, seems questionable at best in the underlying motivation.

    2. Never fear, Brent. #45 is getting investigated left and right, just as he was up to a year before he was elected, and just as he was throughout his entire Presidency, and just as he is continuing to be, primarily by people who are afraid he’ll pull off a Grover Cleveland. And I don’t even want him to run, but I can certainly see the heightened scrutiny he faces, some of it justified (I was in full support of it during the first 12-18 months of his presidency when I thought he was a sleazebag as well).

      So don’t sweat it! Our top-of-the-line investigative journalists, as committed to public integrity as their dear friends in one political party, will make sure he remains under a microscope.

      As Scott here noted, that doesn’t invalidate growing realization that BLM is a massively successful grift that has enriched a dozen or so of its de facto leaders through its shakedown strategy of “pay us or the riots continue”. With few exceptions, the media has tried to hide this–except that it’s gotten too big to hide and even former BLM supporters are calling it out.

    3. Lauren B. Who needs a microscope to see the trail of slime Trump has left. It is like following a tornado through a trailer park.

      It would be too bad if the BLM organization has been misusing money, but it is more likely that they did not know enough to spend some of the money on tax and compliance people. As the spouse of a treasurer for vary a small 501C organization, I know how complicated all of the required government and tax filings can be.

  2. Excellent! There can’t be a better example of personal profiteering over “white shaming / guilt” Than Black Lives Matter. Thanks so much for Rokita investigating this to the fullest extent. Prosecutions will hopefully follow.

    Brent B: I wish you were half as energized over Hunter Biden’s incredulous deals as you are donations to Donald Trump entities.

    1. Bob, the DOJ is actively investing the allegations against Hunter Biden. That’s more than we can say about the tens of millions of dollars that are ending up (or likely to end up) in Donald Trump’s pockets. Remember, contributions to his Super PACs have zero restrictions and can be used for personal purposes. Btw, BLM has not made me feel guilty one bit even as I do recognize that
      there have been several centuries of discrimination in America against blacks. In fact, blacks are more rightly justified in fighting that discrimination than Trump does in claiming he won in 2020.

    2. Bob, is your last name “Partisan?” No need to answer. But I must say, you sound like my 80-something mother. FOX News, all the time. I miss the Republican party that actually tried to be a big(ger) tent and got things done. When I say something to dear ole’ mom about my sadness over the turn to lunacy that has enveloped the GOP of today, it’s the same deflection every time: “Yeah, but look at what Hunter Biden did … etc etc etc.” Get some perspective, especially on a clown like Rokita.

  3. BLM has been a money laundering farce since day 1. Please show all the improvements and financial investment into the community by BLM’s donated funds.

    Campaign finance laundering is a separate topic. Both sides: Clinton’s, Bush’s, Trump’s (pick a name) and even local Senators/Representatives aren’t transparent either. Dig into lobbyists and it gets even more disgusting.

    The race baiting by the BLM leadership who seem only to have improved their personal real estate holdings firmly shows it’s all smoke in mirrors while driving a wedge in society.

    Take a step back everyone and realize that dividing the country by race, gender, ideals, etc is all both sides want. Question is: are you still falling for it?

    1. You nailed it, J C B. Amen on wanting to see improvements and financial investments made to better the lives of the average black American….but don’t waste your time looking, ’cause there aren’t any! As gigantic a shake-down as has ever been perpetrated. [And my family had nothing to do with slavery. Three of my four grandparents were not born in the United States (but DID come here legally) and the fourth grandparent was the daughter of marginally-poor muckland farmers in NW Indiana before it got drained.]

  4. Unfortunately for Todd Rokita, his past behavior makes it impossible to trust his motives. It appears there may be something to this, and yet, Rokita is such a political stunt master, it is hard to take him seriously. He has cried wolf far too many times. He definitely has no credibility enforcing laws in Indiana, which is an issue on the occasion that he might be right.

  5. Is it a partisan stunt for all the investigations that President Trump has endured? Was it partisan for the IRS to look into all the conservative groups under Obamer? Surely if we want to know answers on those affairs it would seem proper to know the affairs of others. When you raise the kind of money that they have raised it would seem natural to ask how and where they were spent. Try to avoid income tax and see how quickly you get a notice to appear or pay.