Did the Organization for Black Struggle, a grassroots partner of far left Service Employees International Union, raise funds under false pretenses, dupe George Soros backed MoveOn.org and keep monies intended for other groups?
Phil Gassoway. Courtesy of Author.
Screenshot of email from Gassoway. Courtesy of Author.
Needless to say I was surprised to hear from him because I have not a congenial relationship with the Ferguson activists and #BlackLivesMatter movement. But I phoned Mr. Gassoway and asked him if he could explain further.
What unfolded was his frustration stemming from what he alleged to be the Organization for Black Struggle adding his group, without permission, to a coalition for which MoveOn.org raised funds. Funds he claimed his group has never received.
According to Mr. Gassoway, the Organization for Black Struggle and their sister organization Missourians Organizing for Reform and Entitlement approached MoveOn.org to assist with election activism fundraising. MoveOn.org reportedly informed them that it could only be done for coalitions with three or more groups as members.
It was then, according to Mr. Gassoway, that Organization for Black Struggle hijacked Ground Level Support's brand to create a coalition of three groups.
MoveOn.org's fundraising email confirmed that Ground Level Support was included in the funds solicitation effort.
Screenshot of fundraising email from MoveOn.org. Courtesy of Author.
"I had no idea this was even happening" he said. "My friend showed me the email a few days later."
Mr. Gassoway told me that he immediately contacted MoveOn.org (around March 19) and they replied a few days later confirming funds were raised for the Organization for Black Struggle-led coalition. MoveOn.org further informed him that around $50,000 had been forwarded to be disbursed among the three groups.
I wondered why MoveOn.org had not independently verify the group's involvement in the coalition. Mr. Gassoway said that MoveOn.org told him that they had communicated with a person named Tony from his organization and that Tony had approved all activity.
"We got a guy named Tony in our group but he didn't do this. I think Organization for Black Struggle just told MoveOn.org that Tony approved it, or put someone on the phone with them claiming to be Tony. I talked to Tony and he said he never spoke to any of those people," he said.
He claimed his next call was to Organization for Black Struggle who also acknowledged the campaign, said they were awaiting the check, and would be in touch shortly.
But why didn't Mr. Gassoway complain that the Organization for Black Struggle had hijacked his group's brand without permission?
"I said I needed my money before the elections on [the Ferguson elections on] April 7 and they said it would be no problem," Mr. Gassoway said.
Mr. Gassoway said that on April 6, a day before the elections, he still had not heard from Organization for Black Struggle. He phoned them to inquire. He claims that he was told that they would forward funds but did not. At that point he says they stopped answering his calls.
Courtesy of Aythor.
"The day before the election I demanded my money and they told me they were waiting for MoveOn.org to approve that. So I called MoveOn and they told me that they sent my money to OBS and to deal with them. I called OBS back and they said OK but no money came. I knew I was getting run around, then they stopped taking my calls," he said.
Organization for Black Struggle then, according to Mr. Gassoway, contacted him on either April 10 or 11, and asked him to submit an expense report for all election related activity. He said that he couldn't comply because his organization was unable to effectively operate due to funding issues.
"We couldn't do nothing for the election because we never got no money. I got mad because they wanted me to give them receipts for my money. We don't work like that. We don't spend our own money. I never told them they could control my money," he said.
Within the next day, Organization for Black Struggle contacted him and asked that he attend a meeting where all involved would discuss disbursement of the funds. Mr. Gassoway said he attended four meetings with Organization for Black Struggle and/or Missourians Organizing for Reform and Entitlement, but in each one Organization for Black Struggle had yet another excuse why they could not disburse funds.
Reasons ranging from logistics and prioritizing needs, to permission from MoveOn.org (that Mr. Gassoway says refutes this claim) were among those he claimed Organization for Black Struggle used to not foward funds.
"The last meeting they asked me to go to, I said no. I'm done wasting my time and I know that they have no intention of giving my money," he said.
According to Mr. Gassoway, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Entitlement also received no monies, but that they were fine with it as they engaged in no campaign efforts and appeared content deferring to Organization for Black Struggle.
"Their goal is to keep all the money. They keep scheduling these meetings, telling me this and that about why the can't send mine. I know what they're doing. They want to go back to MoveOn and tell them we all can't agree hoping that MoveOn just tells them to keep it all," he said.
His estimate of what Organization for Black Struggle is currently holding is between $30,000 and $40,000, but he has given up on expecting his organization's roughly $17,000 pro rata share.
"They really didn't do anything for the election so they still have most of that $50,000 from MoveOn," he said.
What's next for Mr. Gassoway?
"It's a federal offense to fundraise on the internet for someone and take the money. Someone just got arrested by the FBI for that so I'm thinking about calling them," he said.
I contacted both the Organization for Black Struggle and MoveOn.org for comment, but neither organization responded to my request.
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