Major Donors Consider Funding Black Lives Matter

Kenneth P. Vogel and Sarah Wheaton, Politico, November 13, 2015

Some of the biggest donors on the left plan to meet behind closed doors next week in Washington with leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and their allies to discuss funding the burgeoning protest movement, POLITICO has learned.

The meetings are taking place at the annual winter gathering of the Democracy Alliance major liberal donor club, which runs from Tuesday evening through Saturday morning and is expected to draw Democratic financial heavyweights, including Tom Steyer and Paul Egerman.

The DA, as the club is known in Democratic circles, is recommending its donors step up check writing to a handful of endorsed groups that have supported the Black Lives Matter movement. And the club and some of its members also are considering ways to funnel support directly to scrappier local groups that have utilized confrontational tactics to inject their grievances into the political debate.

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The various outfits that comprise the diffuse Black Lives Matter movement prize their independence. Some make a point of not asking for donations. They bristle at any suggestion that they’re susceptible to being co-opted by a deep-pocketed national group–let alone one with such close ties to the Democratic Party establishment like the Democracy Alliance.

And some major liberal donors are leery about funding a movement known for aggressive tactics–particularly one that has shown a willingness to train its fire on Democrats, including presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

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The movement needs cash to build a self-sustaining infrastructure, Phillips said, arguing “the progressive donor world should be adding zeroes to their contributions that support this transformative movement.” But he also acknowledged there’s a risk for recipient groups. “Tactics such as shutting down freeways and disrupting rallies can alienate major donors, and if that’s your primary source of support, then you’re at risk of being blocked from doing what you need to do.”

The Democracy Alliance was created in 2005 by a handful of major donors, including billionaire financier George Soros and Taco Bell heir Rob McKay to build a permanent infrastructure to advance liberal ideas and causes. Donors are required to donate at least $200,000 a year to recommended groups, and their combined donations to those groups now total more than $500 million. {snip}

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According to a Democracy Alliance draft agenda obtained by POLITICO, movement leaders will be featured guests at a Tuesday dinner with major donors. The dinner, which technically precedes the official conference kickoff, will focus on “what kind of support and resources are needed from the allied funders during this critical moment of immediate struggle and long-term movement building.”

The groups that will be represented include the Black Youth Project 100, The Center for Popular Democracy and the Black Civic Engagement Fund, according to the organizer, a DA member named Leah Hunt-Hendrix. {snip}

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