Shaun King Fundraising Report :: An Expert Review Panel Analyzed $34.5 Million King Raised for Families, Charities, Causes, and Campaigns.
Shaun King recently contacted a team of experts in justice reform, law, finance, and compliance to take an unfettered look at his finances over the past five years of his public leadership. He instructed us to share whatever we found, whether flattering or otherwise, and he even helped us make direct contact with dozens of individual family members, charities, and campaigns for whom he has helped to raise money.
This report was authored by Tamika Mallory, Co-Chair of The Women’s March and Co-Founder of Justice League NYC; Becky Bond, partner at The Social Practice; Tiffany Hawkins and Allan Boomer, financial experts with Momentum Advisors; Rob Smith, attorney and executive for The Justice Collaborative; David Mitrani, attorney for Sandler Reiff; and Lee Merritt, civil rights attorney — with the support of CPA and tax attorney Richard Bell.
We ultimately looked at four sets of materials:
First, we tracked five years of fundraisers that Shaun promoted through his social media accounts from August of 2014 immediately after the shooting death of Mike Brown in Ferguson until August of 2019, and we reached out to the families who spearheaded the fundraisers and / or their lawyers. We’ve personally obtained statements from 47 different families, attorneys, and executives across 76 fundraisers, all of which make clear that Shaun has never accessed any of the funds that he helped to raise. For several old, inactive fundraising pages, we were unable to track down the original host. However, we did track down each of the fundraising pages itself with the help of platforms such as GoFundMe, all of which made clear that Shaun is not formally affiliated with the fundraiser itself, but instead simply helped to raise money through sharing links through his email list and social media accounts. We confirmed that Mr. King never had access to the funds in those cases, and could not have taken money, appropriately or otherwise.
Second, we received a full accounting of Shaun’s financial relationship with Real Justice PAC and Action PAC. At Action PAC, Shaun receives no compensation at all. It was decided months before the launch of this PAC, and of its first campaign to Flip The Senate, that Shaun would not be paid for any of his work there. We personally confirmed that he has never been paid for this work. Reports of it being a scam, a fraud, or a grift are erroneous and completely unfounded. At Real Justice PAC, a successful organization with a multi-million dollar annual budget that Shaun co-founded, he received only a modest income of $4,166 per month (without benefits).
Third, we requested and received the past five years of Shaun’s full tax returns to compare them up against his public fundraising from 2014–2019. With the assistance of CPA and tax attorney Richard Bell, we thoroughly reviewed Shaun’s full tax returns filed jointly with his spouse for their past five filings for 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. There is no reason to believe that Shaun ever received any money from any PAC other than the income from his work with Real Justice PAC, and absolutely no compensation, directly or indirectly, from the tens of millions of dollars that he has helped to raise for families in crisis during this five year period of our review. He has never been paid by any political campaign and has continuously maintained at least three jobs for the past five years to support his family and allow him to do the fundraising and advocacy work that he loves without compensation.
Lastly, the King family gave full unlimited access to all of their checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, retirement accounts, and money management software to this team. The history of those accounts goes back more than ten years. Tiffany Hawkins and Allan Boomer, each industry leading financial advisors, found absolutely no financial irregularities or evidence of any malfeasance, abuse, fraud, or misappropriation.
In short, we find absolutely no evidence that Shaun has ever inappropriately accessed any funds that he has raised. We searched and we asked. Not one single family, charity, cause or campaign said Shaun was ever compensated, directly, or indirectly, for his online fundraising. In fact, it appears that with the exception of his compensation through Real Justice PAC, Shaun has received zero compensation for the fundraising he promoted. The exhaustive documentation to substantiate our findings, including every statement from every family and attorney, can be found below.
— Financial Review Board
THE FOLLOWING 10 FUNDRAISERS WERE COMPLETED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY BEN CRUMP
Funds Raised for the Family of Terence Crutcher
Funds Raised for the Support of Chikesia Clemons
In addition to Attorney Crump, Chikesia made the following statement:
“After I was assaulted and wrongly arrested, Shaun and others worked hard to raise funds to support me and my legal defense. He never had access to the funds, to the GoFundMe, and never expected anything in return.”
Funds Raised for the Support of the Family of Stephon Clark
Amount Raised: $83,109 on GoFundMe and shared by Shaun via email and Twitter.
Funds Raised for the Family of EJ Bradford
Funds Raised for the Family of Corey Jones
Amount Raised: $10,520 on GoFundMe by Shaun through email & Twitter.
Funds Raised for the Family of Monroe Bird
Amount Raised: $35,100 by Shaun through Twitter, email, and Facebook.
Funds Raised for the Family of Mike Brown
Amount Raised: $280,000 on GoFundMe by Shaun through Twitter & email.
Funds Raised for the Family of Tamir Rice
Amount Raised: $95,000 on GoFundMe and Amazon Wishlists
Funds Raised for Real Justice PAC and The Action PAC from 2017–August of 2019
Here is a full statement from Becky Bond, Co-Founder and Senior Leader of Real Justice PAC & The Action PAC.
I’ve been working closely with Shaun King since 2017, and I consider him to be one of the most honest, brilliant and generous people I’ve ever had the honor to work with in politics.
In my 20-year career in social justice advocacy, philanthropy and election work, I have amassed a successful track record of managing large teams and multi-million dollar budgets. Currently I run the Social Practice, a general consultancy that advises nonprofits, campaigns, and philanthropies on strategy, organizing and communications. I am the executive director and treasurer of the Real Justice PAC and serve on the senior management team of the Action PAC.
The Real Justice PAC and the Action PAC are affiliated federal hybrid political action committees registered with the Federal Election Commission. The Real Justice PAC was founded in 2017 to support reform candidates for District Attorney. The Action PAC, founded in July of 2019, will support federal, state and local candidates running on a justice platform.
The Real Justice PAC and the Action PAC work in close consultation with Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, P.C., a Washington, D.C. law firm focused on advising clients involved in the business of politics, including political committees, party committees, non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, candidates and officeholders, communications, consulting, and government relations firms, labor unions and trade associations, vendors to political organizations and non-profits, as well as major contributors to political and non-profit groups. Sandler Reiff is ranked as one of the top firms in the United States for political law, and its attorneys are consistently rated among Washington, D.C.’s top political lawyers. Our personal team of attorneys at Sandler Reiff are seasoned veterans, and are often consulted for their expertise by reporters, by the Federal Election Commission, and by state and local agencies.
The Real Justice PAC and the Action PAC file regular compliance reports on all of our receipts and expenditures with the Federal Election Commission. These reports are available to the public at FEC.gov. We also report receipts and expenditures to numerous state and local authorities as required. Our compliance reporting is managed by Evans & Katz, a firm with unmatched experience in the compliance industry and a 20-year track record of excellence. They provide our political action committees with thorough and accountable reporting, and compliance services.
The Real Justice PAC and the Action PAC receive federally reportable contributions via two primary channels. Daily small dollar online donations via ActBlue, a trusted platform for donations to Democratic candidates and committees that are tracked and wired directly into the PAC’s bank accounts. Occasional large dollar contributions are transferred by wire directly from donors to the PAC’s bank accounts. The only officers listed on these bank accounts are myself and Jin Ding, a partner at the Social Practice who manages finance, legal, and compliance activities for the PACs. Shaun King’s participation in the PACs does not encompass accounts payable, accounts receivable or compliance. As such, he does not have access to the bank accounts of the PACs either directly or via debit or credit cards.
Shaun King has, however, been a leader of both PACs who has single-handedly raised the majority of the budget for our political activities in addition to providing strategic direction and communications expertise.
As of July 31, 2019, Shaun King has through his direct efforts on social media and email fundraising generated $2,071,000 in small dollar online contributions into the Real Justice PAC. During that same time the PAC has given in-kind and direct contributions to our endorsed candidates in excess of $1.6 million not counting staffing costs, infrastructure or other operating expenses. Shaun was paid a total of $4,166.67 per month, or $50,000 per year for his work through the services LLCs Bernal Alto and Social Practice.
For comparison purposes, ActBlue, the industry standard online fundraising platform for Democratic candidates from the presidency down to municipal offices, charges 3.95% flat fee on all credit card transactions. Our ActBlue fundraising costs during this period on $2,071,000 in receipts totals $81,804.50. The Real Justice PAC also employs a fundraising firm for $8,000 a month or $96,000 per year for high dollar contributions that have averaged approximately $850,000 a year.
Since the launch of the Action PAC in August of 2019, Shaun King has through his direct efforts on social media and email fundraising generated $254,000 in donations. We’ve hired nine paid staffers and engaged one of top digital firms in politics. Middle Seat, founded by the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign’s Digital Director and Social Media Director, provides 3+ staff to manage our online and social media ads and email programs. Additionally, as mentioned above, this budget pays for our legal representation and our compliance firm. As we continue to endorse in races these staffers and firms will help us provide strategic, social media, organizing and fundraising assistance to Senate candidates. To date we have over $53,000 in monthly recurring donations on ActBlue, and plan to raise and spend $5 million on U.S. Senate races through the end of the 2020 election cycle. Shaun King receives no compensation whatsoever for his work on Action PAC. He does not have access to the bank accounts of the PACs either directly or via debit or credit cards.
Real Justice PAC is regarded as a leader in the field of criminal justice reform. We are making a material difference in the elections of District Attorneys who once in office are enacting bold reform agendas that radically reduce the number of people incarcerated in their jurisdiction. The Action PAC is a new venture that will have an impact on key senate primaries and help build capacity and infrastructure needed to ensure that after losing Senate seats in the wave election of 2018, we pick up enough seats in 2020 to flip control of the U.S. Senate. The success of these ambitious projects — one with a proven track record and another just launched and with great promise — is directly attributable to the work of Shaun King.
Shaun King’s strategic acumen, his communications genius, his access to a massive small dollar donor base, and his ability to attract top staff, are crucial to the success of both the Real Justice PAC and the Action PAC.
Here is an additional statement from David Mitrani, attorney for Sandler Reiff in Washington, D.C., on the sophisticated compliance and reporting measures currently in place for Real Justice and The Action PAC — including links to the quarterly FEC reports.
THE FOLLOWING 16 FUNDRAISERS WERE COMPLETED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY LEE MERRITT
The following statement is from Attorney Lee Merritt:
Shaun and I have worked together on social justice projects for the greater part of two decades and during that time he has demonstrated the highest level of integrity and commitment to the cause of equality. Recent baseless claims that he has misappropriated funds are not only unsubstantiated by any evidence produced by detractors but are in fact demonstratively false.
In recent years, with Shaun’s support, my office has represented the following families, and many other families that experienced tragedy as the result of state sanctioned violence and/or race based attacks. Many of them were actually directly introduced to me by Shaun when they reached out to him personally for help.
Hannah Williams (Anaheim, CA)
O’Shae Terry (Arlington, TX)
Antwon Rose (Pittsburgh, PA)
Botham Jean (Dallas, TX)
DeAndre Harris (Charlottesville, VA)
L’Daijohnique Lee (Dallas, TX)
Jordan Edwards (Balch Springs, TX)
Pamela Turner (Houston, TX)
Jemel Roberson (Robbins, IL)
Everett Palmer (Queens, NY)
Jacqueline Craig (Fort Worth, TX)
Dequan Huey (Texarkana, TX)
Vance Keys & Abdul Pridgen
Symone Marshall (Huntsville, TX)
Darwin Oliver (Dallas, TX)
In each of these cases Shaun has used his platform to put pressure on elected officials and state agents to do right by these families and victims. As a result of his efforts, false charges have been dropped, misinformation has been exposed, and culpable parties have been prosecuted. At the repeated request of families in crisis Shaun has elevated fundraising efforts on their behalf. He was the primary fundraiser for each of these families. Each and every time I have witnessed Shaun caution families that he cannot have direct contact with family funds or access to their fundraisers. As a friend he has warned me to avoid having money pass through my hands or my office whenever possible. Shaun has never received funds on behalf of any of my clients. At best, Shaun has provided guidance on how best to frame fundraising efforts to ensure the community is aware of how funds are being used and who are the intended beneficiaries. I have witnessed Shaun repeatedly reject any notion that he should be compensated or receive any fiduciary benefit for his efforts even when it was offered. Any claims to the contrary are wholly inconsistent with the facts.
In addition to serving families in crisis, Shaun and I have also teamed up to serve communities impacted by natural disasters and/or policies that violate human rights. We coordinated efforts to get relief to the Sioux Nation at Standing Rock when the Dakota Access Pipeline threatened the community’s water supply. Instead of raising money that could potentially be subject to claims of misappropriation, we focused instead on delivering relief items directly to the community. We implemented this same strategy again in the Summer of 2017 when hurricanes devastated the Texas Gulf Coast, Florida Keys and several Caribbean islands. Shaun help to provide supplies to a coalition of volunteers that came to be known as the American Black Cross (ABC). ABC went on to provide over two million dollars in relief material to communities impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. In each of these efforts Shaun has cautioned coordinators to keep as detailed of an accounting at the situation allowed for in order to avoid future claims of impropriety. Shaun warned that his experience had taught him even the most well intended efforts could later devolve into claims of corruption. We asked Shaun repeatedly to serve on the board of the American Black Cross but he refused because he didn’t want unfounded attacks against him to harm our work.
In addition to the above outlined causes, Shaun and I have worked together on countless political campaigns and to support civil rights cases of colleagues in the legal field. I have never had a single family, political candidate or community organization claim Shaun has violated their trust in any way whatsoever. People have come to me in confidence concerned about rumors swirling on the internet and questioned whether any individuals I have worked with or for have accused Shaun of wrongdoing. They have not. In the span of almost twenty years I can say confidently that Shaun has comported himself with the utmost integrity and character.
— Lee Merritt
Funds Raised to Support the Family of Botham Jean
Here is a statement from the family of Botham Jean:
“We have had the pleasure of interacting with Shaun King in the months following Botham’s murder. Shaun has become more than another voice for our family. He has become our friend. He has advocated for the Jean family, spoke up for us, dried our tears and held our hands. We are grateful for his support as are many other families who have met him. In this photo Shaun King welcomed our family into his home to do what he does best — nourish.”
Funds Raised to Support the Family of Antwon Rose
Funds Raised for the Support of DaQuan Huey
Here is a personal handwritten letter by the mother of DaQuan Huey.
Funds Raised for the Support of L’Daijohnique Lee
Funds Raised for the Family of Hannah Williams
Funds Raised to Help a Veteran Repair Their Home
Funds Raised to Help Crosby Fire Victims in Houston.
Funds Raised to Support DeAndre Harris in Charlottesville
Amount Raised: $166,045 on GoFundMe. Shared by Shaun here. A separate account for a reward has been established to help identify and arrest two remaining attackers of DeAndre Harris. That account is managed by the Merritt Law Firm, LLC.
Funds Raised to Support Kevin Fitchett
Amount Raised: $28,441.00 on GoFundMe. Shared by Shaun on Twitter.
Funds Raised to Support O’Shae Terry
Funds Raised to Support the Family of Symone Marshall
Amount Raised: $8,722 on GoFundMe.
Funds Raised to Support Darwin Oliver
Funds Raised for the Reward of the Killer of Jazmine Barnes
Funds Given By Donors: $55,500. All funds directly paid to tipster. Note: Celebrities originally pledged over $100,000 for this reward but only gave $55,000 of it. All funds were received and paid out directly by the Merritt Law Firm, LLC.
Funds and In-Kind Donations Made for Houston Flood Relief to the American Black Cross (ABC)
Amount Raised: $2,041,831. More about the work in Fast Company.
Funds Raised to Support Bailing Out Dallas Mothers on Mother’s Day
Amount Raised: $15,000 with the Texas Organizing Project.
Funds Raised to Support Marques Sudden
Amount Raised: $7,000.
THE FOLLOWING 2 FUNDRAISERS WERE COMPLETED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SOUTH CAROLINA CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY AND LEGISLATOR TODD RUTHERFORD.
Here is a statement made by Todd Rutherford on these fundraisers:
“Shaun was an essential driving force behind each of these fundraisers for a young student assaulted by a police officer in her school and the activist Bree Newsome after she took down the Confederate flag in South Carolina. Shaun never, for a single moment, had access to the funds, the accounts, or the websites that my clients used to raise the funds. He did the work for the love of it. I was honestly surprised to see how much time and energy and effort Shaun put into those fundraisers. He never asked for or even hinted at receiving anything in return. My clients simply would not have raised that much money had Shaun not pushed so hard for them.”
Funds Raised for Spring Valley High School Victim of Police Brutality
Funds Raised for the Support and Legal Defense of Bree Newsome.
Amount Raised: $125,705 on IndieGoGo.
THE FOLLOWING 4 FUNDRAISERS WERE COMPLETED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH EDWIN LINDO
Here is a statement from Edwin Lindo, JD. Edwin is a Lecturer in the Department of Family Medicine and Associate Director for the Center for Learning Innovation in Medical Education at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Here is his statement:
I am the founder of Estelita’s Library, a new social justice community library in Seattle, and was the organizer for the GoFundMe campaign that raised funds to get it launched. Shaun shared this campaign, helped us raise funds, and the library is successful to this day. Shaun never had access and never will have access to the funds raised by Estelita’s Library. He was not paid and never suggested such a thing.
Within Estelita’s Library, we also created a GoFundMe fundraising campaign to secure and preserve a large collection of original Black Panther Party Newspapers. Shaun shared this fundraiser across social media. Shaun never had or has access to the funds of this fundraiser either.
Shaun has generously given a dozen different activists and organizers full access to his Facebook page. I know because I am an admin on his page. I was the person who shared the Joshua Upshaw GoFundMe campaign on Shaun’s Facebook page. Shaun never had access to the funds for this campaign. Shaun had no connection to this campaign other than amplifying it on his social media.
I also shared the Charleena Lyles GoFundMe campaign on Shaun’s Facebook page and Shaun never had access to the funds for this campaign. Shaun had no connection to this campaign other than amplifying it and advocating for justice for Charleena after she was killed by the police.
Shaun King has proven time and time again that his integrity and desire to serve the community is his highest priority. We have worked together now for four years and never once has he mentioned anything about money or funds raised for our campaigns. Shaun’s principled values are what I and others in the community believe in. We can’t be more grateful for his support to amplify our voices and supporting our campaigns.
Thank you Shaun for everything you’ve done. We have your back unconditionally.
— Edwin Lindo
Funds Raised to Support the Family of Charleena Lyles
Amount Raised: $117,525 on GoFundMe.
Funds Raised to Support Estelita’s Library & L.E.M.S. Bookstore in Seattle
Funds Raised to Support the Purchase of the Panther Papers
Funds Raised to Support Joshua Upshaw
THE FOLLOWING FUNDRAISERS WERE EACH FROM PEOPLE, FAMILIES, AND ATTORNEYS WHO ASKED FOR SHAUN’S HELP. EACH HAS PROVIDED THEIR OWN STATEMENT.
Here is a statement from Michael Skolnik, who introduced Shaun to the following 4 fundraisers:
“Over the years, Shaun has supported several GoFundMe campaigns that I have created and spotlighted on social media. He was never paid to amplify these projects and in every case, I can confirm that 100% of the funds raised were delivered to the recipient of the fundraiser.”
Funds Raised to Support the Family of Sgt. La David Johnson
Amount Raised: $731,025 on GoFundMe.
Funds Raised to Support Jordyn Grace
Funds Raised to Support the Brooklyn Bodega Boy
Amount Raised: $17,564 on GoFundMe
Funds Raised to Support the Charitable Work of Erica Ford
Amount Raised: $79,332 on GoFundMe.
Funds Raised to Support Natalie Romero in Charlottesville.
Ericka Chaves managed the fundraiser and made the following statement:
“Shaun — thank you so much for the help raising funds for Natalie’s recovery after the attack in Charlottesville. Only I had access to the GoFundMe account for Natalie. You never had the access to that account, you never asked for access, or money, and we never offered you any money. From us you didn’t get anything but our thanks.” — Ericka Chaves
Funds Raised to Support the Family of Logan Tipton
“In 2016, my 6 year old grandson, Logan Tipton, was murdered and Shaun helped raise funds for our family. He never profited in any way from any money or gifts given toward Logan’s family. Thank you.” -Nancy Rheinfrank
Funds Raised to Support the Family of Philando Castile
Amount Raised: $188,341 on GoFundMe.
“Shaun King is awesome and I thank him so much for his love and support. I mean that. He is using his voice and platform to keep these difficult conversations going. Shaun never had any access to this fundraiser for my son, Philando, but was kind enough to support and share it widely.”
— Valerie Castile, Mother of Philando Castile
Funds Raised to Support Justice for Jonathan Skyy Hart
“Shaun King had never had access to any funds for Jonathan Skyy Hart that were raised on his pages or otherwise.” — Jasmyne Cannick
Funds Raised for the Family of Gregory Hill
“Shaun, it’s John Phillips, Attorney for the family of Gregory Hill. I can verify the family has received and will continue to receive the funds from the GoFundMe that you helped us share. Only Mr. Hill’s family and I have had access. You have not and certainly were not compensated in any way from that fund. Anyone who disputes this can contact me directly at (904) 444–4444. We still await the ruling on our Motion for New Trial by the 11th Circuit. I appreciate you lending your voice to this family and all of the voiceless.”
Funds Raised for the Family of Nia Wilson
Amount Raised: $101,217 on GoFundMe.
“Shaun King helped us raise money for our family after the murder of my baby sister Nia Wilson, but did not have access to the account and never received any funds in return.” — Tomisha Wilson, older sister of Nia Wilson
Funds Raised to Help Send Gerald Thomas to Morehouse College
Amount Raised: $9,300 on GoFundMe.
“Shaun King helped raise funds for me to attend Morehouse College. I can unequivocally state that Shaun never had access to my GoFundMe, or the funds that were raised, and never asked to be compensated in any way.”
— Gerald Thomas
Funds Raised to Support Crystal Mason and Her Family
Here is a statement from Kim Cole, the attorney for Crystal Mason.
Funds Raised to Support Marissa Alexander
Amount Raised: $61,733.83.
Here is a statement from Mariame Kaba on the fundraiser:
“With respect to the Marissa Alexander Fundraiser, I can confirm that Shaun King helped amplify the 10 days to Freedom Fundraiser that was set up to raise $11,000 to cover ankle monitoring costs from Marissa in January 2015. Shaun came in toward the end of that fundraiser and helped us meet the goal. None of the money from that was ever in Shaun’s control. It went to Marissa’s general legal fund (an online fundraiser that had been set up to help support her legal fees). Neither Shaun or I had control over those funds, Marissa’s family did through the Free Marissa Now Campaign. Hope that clarifies things.”
Funds Raised for Activists in Ferguson
Amounts Raised: $4,278 & $19,120
“In regards to Millennial Activists United, you helped with our legal defense fund by retweeting and sharing the link. Again, I want to be clear as to how you helped to promote our fundraiser. We created the fundraisers to help pay for our legal charges against the State of Missouri after our arrest on the Anniversary Michael Brown’s death. There was no other initiative on your part other than sharing the links with your very large platform, and emailing the folks behind Crowdrise when the trolls attempted to have the fundraiser removed. I attest to and confirm these details.” -Brittany Ferrell, MAU
Funds Raised for the Support of 14 year old Radazz Hearns
Amount Raised: $11,853
“In regards to Radazz Hearns, Mr. King reached out to us to find out how he could help. He retweeted and shared the link to our GoFundMe account that was set up by the family to help pay for medical expenses for Radazz after he was shot by police. Mr. King never had access to the funds.”
— Sam Anyan, Attorney for the family of Radazz Hearns
Funds Raised for the Family of Chad Merrill
Here is a statement from the family of Chad Merrill:
Good Morning Shaun!
I just wanted to touch base with you and just say how appreciative we are of you sharing Chad’s story with the world. Truly. The world needed to hear about what he stood for and about how he was tragically murdered in July of 2018 after he defended a man who was being discriminated against by a bigot. The fact that you just posted and not once asked for anything in return - nor do I think expected anything from us — was just so heartfelt. Because of you raising awareness, the post was shared so many times, only Facebook can count. Our GoFundMe account was for Layton (his son 5 months old at the time) & the funeral. That account has been placed in accounts with only family members being able to access in order to help Layton have everything he needs growing up.
So again, Sincerely from the bottom of our hearts, thank you
Christine & Richard Merrill
Funds Raised for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Center Mass Bailout
Amount Raised: $120,279.50
Here is a letter from Wade McMullen, the Managing Attorney for the RFK Center.
In October 2018, RFK Human Rights launched a month long Mass Bail Out action, freeing 105 individuals from Rikers Island and other jail complexes in New York City.
These efforts were made possible in part to the enormous support of various stakeholders, including 416 individual donors who contributed $120,279.50 to the fund via online donations.
While Shaun King played a key role in helping raise awareness online about the cause and our fundraising efforts, 100% of these donations were received by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and were used to pay bail and free people from cages in New York. Shaun King did not receive compensation of any kind for his assistance in the effort.
Wade H. McMullen, Jr., Managing Attorney
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Funds raised for grassroots relief during Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
“Hello All. Shaun helped me raised money to give back to the families during my ground work at Hurricane Harvey. He had no access to the money and never asked for access. He never even insinuated anything of that nature. He was just there to help me. I was able to do a lot for my community thanks to Shaun. I got mad love and respect for him.” — Keraun King Harris
Funds Raised for Frederick Douglass Academy VII in Brownsville, Brooklyn to go to Barcelona, Spain and Japan.
Amount Raised for Barcelona: $42,293 on GoFundMe.
Amount Raised for Japan: $61,179 on GoFundMe.
Statement from Eric Jordan, English Teacher at Frederick Douglass Academy:
Anyone with questions about Shaun King’s involvement in our fundraisers should know that he supported us by sharing about our Spain and Japan campaigns on social media of his own accord and did not receive any compensation of any kind from us.
Every dollar we have ever raised has been with the knowledge of my school, Frederick Douglass Academy VII HS. Furthermore, the Department of Education has oversight over all international trips through the superintendents, who must receive a binder of all documentation, including a financial accounting of all funds collected and disbursed. I have access to such records as I am one of the people who prepared each trip binder. The bottom line is that there simply would not be any way for us to pay someone for their support without my school’s administration as well as the Superintendent, and by extension, the Department of Education, being aware of it, and either FDA’s administration or the DoE would intervene if anything unethical or any violation of the Chancellor’s regulations took place (such as paying someone for promoting our fundraisers).
About how GoFundMe works: When you create a campaign on that platform, you have to designate a beneficiary, link their account, and initiate withdrawals to their account. Without designating a beneficiary, all donations received are refunded after 90 days. In other words, there is no way to hide who is receiving the funds. That kind of scheme just wouldn’t work on GoFundMe, and our campaign donations only go to FDA VII’s Chase account.
Shaun King has never been a beneficiary of any of our fundraisers; therefore, he has never had access to any of the funds collected, and as I have explained, there would be no way to pay him for his help, because that would have gotten shut down by my school’s admin or by the DoE, and there would be no way to hide it either. There is full documentation of any fundraiser funds spent (for example, when I was reimbursed by check for catering costs for an art auction we held in March), and nothing has ever been paid to Shaun King. Additionally, and very importantly: when we set up a campaign, the funds we collect are directly deposited into the school’s account; each and every transaction is documented in our trip binders and in records our school’s secretary keeps.
It is simply impossible for Shaun to have been given secret or illicit access to trip funds.
And as to whether our trips took place, there is copious documentation that our trips, our students, and our expenses :-) are very real. I have created dozens of campaign-related videos over the years; including these videos thanking Shaun and more.
Funds Raised for Cave 313 in Detroit, Michigan
In November 2017, Shaun personally helped our nonprofit The Yunion raise money for the building needed to expand our classes for our male academy, The Cave of Adullam in Detroit.
Shaun has truly been a faithful friend and ally. He has NEVER asked for anything in return for supporting our fundraiser or had access to our GoFundMe account. This is why I was appalled when these false allegations surfaced! I can’t find the comment on Instagram where I shared these same sentiments, but I will gladly make a post/video speaking to my experience as it relates to Shaun’s character and sincere support of helping us teach, train and transform more boys!
Funds Raised to Fight the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock
Amount Raised: $388,000 in cash here & over $2,000,000 in direct aid.
Here is a letter from Chase Iron Eyes, J.D., and member of the Oglala Sioux Nation. Chase was raised on the Standing Rock reservation.
January 30, 2019
This writing is to serve as a letter of validation to the fact that Shaun King has given selflessly to the cause of preventing the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built in trespass through lands protected by the internationally valid treaties of 1851 and 1868 between the Sioux Nation and the United States.
Shaun was approached by Edwin Lindo and Chase Iron Eyes to help boost this fundraising campaign (Last Real Indians #NoDAPL Aid) which was used to directly support the effort to civilly confront Energy Transfer Partners, Tiger Swan and their ability to orchestrate a narrative which found Indigenous Nations cast as terrorists in their own lands which led to the illegal completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The funds raised by the campaign Last Real Indians #NoDAPL aid were never in Shaun King’s custody, nor Chase Iron Eyes, nor Edwin Lindo. All funds were administered by Seventh Generation Fund (with 40 years in the world of Indigenous Philanthropy) through the nonprofit subsidiary LRInspire (Last Real Indians, Inc.). All funds were fully accounted for and were used for the purposes of civilly confronting those who instigated the trespass and violence against unarmed water protectors, as well as protecting the Missouri River on behalf of all who depend on it.
All funds ($388,000) were raised and administered through regulated non-profit accounting procedures and were used for the following categories of support: vehicles and trailers to haul all donated supplies, warehouse & office space, snow-capable vehicles, fuel for all vehicles, repair for all vehicles, sanitation operations for camp, contractors for all labor not volunteered, fire wood (vendors, saws, all attendant equipment), propane and other heating operations, construction materials and support, food, hydration, sustenance, winter survival gear (clothing, boots, gloves, etc.), media equipment and support, shower and elder accommodations, to highlight some categories.
Additionally, and more significantly, we estimate our team handled and processed a total of $2 Million dollars worth of goods which were purchased and fulfilled online and sent directly to our warehouse. This initial call for emergency aid caused our entire team to accrue the need for logistical support to ensure survival of camp members. Our entire purpose was to keep people alive during deadly the winter conditions of the northern plains, including North Dakota.
All of this humanitarian aid was made possible in large part because of Shaun King’s extremely compassionate network which trusts Shaun because of his truth-telling and advocacy.
Please rest assured that Shaun King exemplifies the Lakota value of WoCantognake (Carry the People in your Heart); Shaun received no remuneration of any kind in this campaign.
/s/ Chase Iron Eyes /s/ Edwin Lindo
Funds Raised to Support the Family of Alton Sterling
Shaun King has been a great asset for justice in Louisiana. We met after the death of Alton Sterling as I assisted the Sterling family in advocacy for justice. Shaun has used his platform to raise awareness in pursuit of justice for not just the case of Alton Sterling but Raheem Howard, Jordan Frazier, and others. Shaun has never asked for a penny, and never received money from any advocacy he’s done in any situation he’s helped us with here. Shaun has made himself available at any hour of the day or night to lend support and counsel. Our country needs his voice. I appreciate his constant support and willingness to stand for truth and justice on the behalf of people half way across the country, not for profit, but because it is the right thing to do. — Gary Chambers
Funds raised to get new shoes to the kids of Chicago called the Anti-bait Truck event.
Amount Raised: $28,434 on GoFundMe & over $750,000 in new shoes
Statement from the artist and activist Vic Mensa on Shaun’s support:
Shaun has my unequivocal support. His essential involvement in our anti-bait truck last summer in Chicago was very much responsible for putting my non-profit on the map. The selfless around the clock support that you gave to one of the most marginalized communities in Chicago is recognized and appreciated by not only myself and my organization, but also my entire city.
It does not go without recognition that you never asked for a dime from the magnanimous volume of what you helped us to raise in 10 short days, including over 15,000 pairs of new shoes, as well as hard cash, which you insisted we should manage via GoFundMe.
Speaking on behalf of the director of my foundation, Laundi Keepseagle, it is also worth noting that your involvement in the political movement of Standing Rock community that she calls home was responsible for millions of dollars that you never requested a cent from.
Put simply, it is very evident to me that your detractors saying you are stealing from organizations or families or causes are just hating on you. Unfortunately, this may be the price to pay for the positive influence you have amassed through the internet, as we know no good deed goes unpunished. However, as I stated earlier, I am 100% in your corner and I am no stranger to character assassination. I feel very strongly that you are a man of principle and a true vanguard of the people and you will emerge recognized as such.
— Vic Mensa
Funds Raised to Support the Family of Pedro Hernandez, a teenage boy wrongly jailed at Rikers Island.
Amount Raised: $125,000
Here is a personal letter written by Pedro’s mother, Jessica Perez:
In a time of urgency and despair, while my son, Pedro Hernandez, was wrongfully detained at a sickening Rikers Island facility. I was blessed enough to have activist and advocates rush to my aid. The support, and empathy was completely unforeseen. I had tried and exhausted all of my resources to post a bail and get my son out. Community members, news reporters, and activists alike all urged me to create a “gofundme”, telling me that with the public support, it will work and I’ll be able to get my son out.
Asking community members, and generally the public to monetarily contribute my son’s bail was something that had never crossed my mind. Truthfully, I was embarrassed and felt less than a mother. However, I realized that I had no other option if I wanted to keep my promise to my son that I will do whatever I had to in order to get him home. I proceeded to make an account, but instantly it was taken down. Citing that “gofundme” did not allow crowdfunding for “legal fees”. I was exhausted and heartbroken, but I attempted again — this time on “youcaring”.
Like a blessing in disguise, Shaun King assured me that he would utilize all of his platforms and contacts in order to help raise the necessary funds to bail my son out. Bail was set at $250,000 cash over a $500,000 bond, an amount that wasn’t attainable whatsoever for my family. He kept his promise, and to my utter shock, donations began to pour in. In under two weeks we had reached nearly half of our goal ($110,000). Donations and messages of support came in from across the United States, and even some outside countries. My son’s attorney and Private Investigator reached out to the District Attorney’s office to let them know we almost had the cash bail and will be requesting a bail hearing, only to find out that they were going to demand “proof of work, tax records, and signatures” from over 2,500 strangers who donated to the crowdfunding account, many of which did so anonymously.
At this point I was distraught, and realized that the district attorney’s office was going to go to any measures to keep my son in the hell hole of Rikers. Yet, before I can fully grasp the situation, Shaun King and Justice League NYC put me in direct contact with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Organization. Which ultimately posted my son’s bail. While the Bronx District Attorneys Office went to extreme measures to keep my son behind bars, Shaun king went even further to get him out. He leveraged all of his platforms and his entire career as an activist and journalist to get my son home. He felt my pain and from the love of his heart he did all of this for my family without even meeting us. He never, not once, expected, asked, or received a penny from the donations raised. Even after my son’s release, we met to discuss-details of a powerful story he was working on to highlight the injustices throughout all of my sons encounters with the criminal justice system.
After our meeting, which happened to be over lunch, he refused to let me pay the bill. This small gesture stood out to me, and in itself shows how giving, generous, and kind he is. Shaun is genuine, dedicated, loving, and supportive. Through his leadership he uplifts families like mine everyday, and I will forever be grateful for all that he’s done.
- Jessica Perez, mother of Pedro Hernandez
RAICES Fundraisers to reunite immigrant children with their families
Here is a statement from Erika Andiola, Chief of Advocacy for RAICES.
Shaun King has been incredibly supportive of all the work I’ve done in the immigrant rights movement, including these fundraisers. I can also speak on behalf of RAICES and assure anyone that we have never paid you for your support. We’re very grateful for all your help regularly sharing actions, events, and fundraisers on all of your platforms.
Appreciate you brother,
Erika Andiola, Chief of Advocacy, RAICES
Funds Raised for the Family of Bianca Roberson after she was Shot & Killed on the Highway by a Bigot.
A statement from Michelle Roberson, mother of Bianca Roberson is here:
“My name is Michelle Roberson and I’m writing to state that Shaun King has not been paid for his work or had access to any accounts or funds. Thank you.”
Funds Raised to Support the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Center in Harlem
Amount Raised: $99,608 on LaunchGood.
Here is a statement from Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz:
“In 2018, The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center held a fundraising campaign, “Reclaiming The Legacy Of Malcom X”. This fundraiser was dedicated to revitalize the infrastructure of the Center, ensuring its longterm success as a world class memorial site and educational center. Shaun King assisted in the fundraising effort on a voluntary basis. He was not paid for his work, and he never requested or had access to the fundraising account.”
Fundraising for the wife and kids of Shaun’s older brother, Jason King, after his battle with pancreatic cancer.
Statement from Mary Beth Mosteller, who started and managed the fundraiser:
In early September of 2018 I decided to create a GoFundMe account for Kari (Sophie) King. She is one of my best friends since junior high and we’d just found out that her husband Jason had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. That felt like the best thing I could do to support her family from across the country.
Because I set up the account, I needed her to link it to her personal bank account in order to withdraw the funds directly. No one else was involved with this but Sophie and myself. At no point did I authorize or allow anyone else to access to the account, nor did anyone else request access. Additionally, only Sophie’s bank account was connected to the GoFundMe account. All of the funds raised during the GoFundMe campaign were transferred directly to Sophie’s personal account.
Funds Raised to Support Justice League NYC
Statement from the Leadership Team of Justice NYC:
Since we met Shaun around 5 years ago, he has regularly shared social media posts, news stories and fundraising links at our request. He has uplifted our content out of good faith, and has never asked for compensation nor been paid for this. He has also worked hard to connect us with people in need, like Pedro Hernandez, as well as sharing our information with artists and athletes looking to gain insight on how to support our efforts. We count him as a reliable partner in the movement for police accountability, justice reform and racial justice.
Carmen Perez, CEO of The Gathering for Justice & Co-Founder Justice League NYC
Tamika Mallory, Co-Founder Justice League NYC
Linda Sarsour, Co-Founder Justice League NYC
Mysonne Linen, Co-Founder Justice League NYC
Funds Raised for “Justice. That’s All” and “Justice Together”
Amounts Raised: $5,857 in 2014 and $9,723 in 2015.
In 2014 & 2015, Shaun raised $15,580 from small donors to fund an experimental idea of bringing together tens of thousands of disparate online volunteers from all 50 states and over 100 countries to fight against injustice and police brutality. When Shaun failed to execute the concept well, he closed the project and refunded 100% of the donations made — including processing fees. We have confirmed this directly with donors and with records. Shaun has repeatedly communicated to us many hard lessons he learned from those failures and has helped put improved standards and practices in place with his new organizing work with Real Justice and The Action PAC. Each organization now has highly skilled, experienced volunteer managers, attorneys, compliance officers, and senior leadership teams to effectively manage the day to day operations in ways that compensate for Shaun’s admitted challenges. As a result, each organization is healthy, thriving, and impactful.
THE FOLLOWING FUNDRAISERS WERE WIDELY PROMOTED BY SHAUN OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS, BUT OUR REVIEW TEAM JUST COULD NOT LOCATE THE FAMILIES. MANY OF THEM SUFFERED UNSPEAKABLE TRAGEDIES.
Editor’s Note: Here are the steps we took to contact the following people: If the GoFundMe accounts were still open, we tried to contact them through the contact button there. If it was linked to their Facebook page, we sent them repeated messages there. If neither of those options were available, we searched publicly available social media channels, traditional media outlets, white pages, and search tools. For each person, if we found potential email addresses and phone numbers, we emailed and called each number. That helped us reach several of the above campaigns. Everyone else is below. Where we found mailing addresses, we are now in the process of sending letters as well.
Funds Raised to Support a Family After a Horrible Fire in The Bronx
Amount Raised: $61,941 on GoFundMe.
Funds Raised to Support the Family of Ke’Anna Shields Bentley After a Fatal Car Crash
Amount Raised: $13,110 on GoFundMe.
Funds Raised to Keep the Baltimore Kids Safe Zone Open
Amount Raised: $19,750 on GoFundMe.
Funds Raised for the Family of DJ Ocho after he Died Saving People during Hurricane Harvey
Funds Raised for the Family of 15 year old James Means after he was Murdered by a Bigot
Funds Raised for the Garcia Family after Jorge Garcia was Deported
Funds Raised for Juan and Other Marginalized Street Vendors
Funeral Expenses for Brandon Smith after he Died in Police Custody
Amount Raised: $7,520 on GoFundMe.
Shaun King is perhaps the most determined, relentless, prolific fundraiser in the modern day Civil Rights Movement. Every few hours we are notified of an additional fundraiser that Shaun selflessly provided vital support, guidance, consultation, and amplification for. We will continue to vet, examine, and then add those fundraisers to this report as they come in.
For several years now, Shaun has privately given full access to his social media accounts to nearly 20 different trusted organizers and activists to share at will, and has even taken sole responsibility for several damaging posts they authored so that it did not harm their own work or reputation in any way.
In a day and age where victories can be hard to come by, Shaun has made a clear decision that raising awareness and funds for people, causes, and campaigns in need is his best contribution to the movement. This team will continue to provide transparent support, encouragement, advice, and even correction as Shaun moves forward. We see growth and an open heart in Shaun and feel strongly that his fundraising has been egregiously misrepresented across the years. That misrepresentation was first started by flagrant white supremacists when Shaun raised funds for families impacted by bigotry and police brutality. In 2014, they regularly lied and said that Shaun was stealing from the family of Mike Brown, then the family of Eric Garner, then the family of Tamir Rice — when no such thing ever took place. The majority of the most vocal accusers of Shaun in 2014 & 2015 have now been permanently banned from all social media platforms for their abuse and bigotry. Soon, mainstream conservatives, including Glen Beck and Bill O’Reilly, began repeating and spreading these lies in a clear attempt to destabilize Shaun’s work and the movement at large.
As Shaun’s national impact and influence grew, Breitbart, with Steve Bannon still at the helm, began attacking every facet of Shaun’s personal and professional life. The people leading many of those attacks have since been banned from all social media platforms for their abuse and bigotry as well. While the attacks did not stop Shaun’s journalism or activism, they succeeded in placing a damaging cloud of suspicion around his fundraising — which has arguably been Shaun’s greatest contribution as a national leader these past five years.
We do not believe that was a mistake. In fact, every indication suggests this was their intent all along. And Shaun has confessed to us that the continuous attacks have often been overwhelming, not just for him, but for his wife and five children as well. In the past year alone, Shaun and his family have suffered through false reports to child protective services about their children, fake 911 calls to their home, and damaging false reports about his fundraising. We believe this team will be able to proactively support Shaun’s fundraising work moving forward to help alleviate at least some of that burden. Families in crisis need Shaun’s support.
If you are interested in facts, this transparent report provides hundreds of them. Please share it. Lies have a way of going viral, but the truth hardly trends on Twitter. When you see lies and fabrications about Shaun’s fundraising, please this. When you see someone saying that Real Justice or The Action PAC or the campaign to Flip the Senate are scams, please share this.
Finally, we thank Shaun and his family for allowing us to have a deeply invasive look into his entire life and personal finances. They answered every question and never denied a single request.
— Financial Review Board