Dem House candidate backed by BLM charged in federal court, faces 20 years in prison

A former U.S. congressional candidate and Louisiana state senator, Karen Carter Peterson, received campaign funds from the Black Lives Matter PAC through the 2022 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets financial records. OpenSecrets is the nation’s premier research group that track money in U.S. politics and publishes data on campaign contributions to Congress as well as its effect on elections and public policy.

Peterson who served as the chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party from 2012 to 2020 recently faced wire fraud charges in federal court. Peterson resigned as a state senator in April, alleging gambling and mental health issues. She was charged with wire fraud in federal court early this month for using campaign funds and money available to her as state Democratic Party chair to pay for her gambling and other personal expenses.

During her congressional campaign, Peterson received more than double the amount the BLM PAC gave to Democratic Senators from Georgia, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively. Ossoff and Warnock are the only other federal candidates that the beleaguered group has donated money to this election cycle besides Peterson.

According to the Louisiana Illuminator, the seven-year scheme by Peterson involved diverting state campaign and party money to several individuals and businesses, which allegedly cashed the checks and provided Peterson with most or all of the funds.

Peterson then used the money on personal expenses, including gambling-related costs. She also filed “false and misleading” campaign finance reports that “mischaracterized expenditures as being for legitimate purposes related to her campaign or the holding of public office,” the Justice Department wrote in a July 14 press release.

Peterson faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Her lawyer told KPLC-TV that she has entered into an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty. Peterson is scheduled to reappear in court on August 1.

“Today marks an important step in my life-long recovery as I continue to address my gambling addiction. I sincerely apologize for the impact from my compulsive behavior resulting from this addiction,” Peterson tweeted the day charges were filed earlier this month. “I have made full repayment of funds used as a result of my addiction and I will continue to make amends,” she added. “Staying true to the steps of my ongoing recovery, I have been forthright, honest, and fully cooperative with the US Attorneys’ Office in their investigation.”

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BLM and its associated groups have come under scrutiny for how they handle funds since emerging as a multi-million dollar charity following the surge in social justice activism in 2020 over the murder of George Floyd. A recent BLM tax return revealed that the group was paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to people close to the leadership of the organization.

The tax returns also revealed that BLM gave $200,000 to a Chicago-based nonprofit organization whose leader referred to cops as “pigs” and “sick f-ks,” and has celebrated violent demonstrations, including the burning of a Minneapolis police station.

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