Jimmy’s Denver Gazette Column | Who picks up the tab for Tay Anderson?
Written by Jimmy at the Crossroads on March 5, 2021
On Sunday, Denver Public Schools board member Tay Anderson finally made the “special announcement” he’d been promising on Twitter since Feb. 18. Contrary to mountains of speculation he might run for higher office, the big news was personal.
The 22-year-old proudly proclaimed that he will be a father. Baby Khalil’s due date is May 13. Sincere congratulations are in order! A baby is truly a precious gift from God.
You’ll be forgiven if you were among those who were engaging in political speculation, however. On Feb. 19, Anderson had tweeted, “I’ve huddled with my advisers, shooting video on Sunday, and ending Black History Month with a special announcement beginning new adventures! #TeamTay get ready …” A separate tweet tagged the Colorado Democrats and said, “y’all ready 2/28.”
For days, Anderson trolled followers with video production photos and retweets of excited rumors or people in-the-know hinting at something big. All signs suggested a political development until Feb. 28, when Anderson tweeted a professionally-produced video in which he reads aloud a letter to his unborn child.
“Dear Khalil,” Anderson begins. “I was raised by a single mother and like many Black men, I have faced a life that was supposed to bury me before I could write this to you.” He commendably expresses how, unlike his own father, he will always be “committed to giving you the life you deserve.”
The video turns to Black Lives Matter, in which Anderson is a prominent leader. “Our first real conversation won’t be about the birds and the bees,” Anderson says. “It will be about how to survive in a world that doesn’t value your life.”
In many ways, this is a beautiful letter from a father welcoming his son into the world. Yet the video’s political tint and extensive social-media lead-up raises many legitimate questions about how Anderson operates.
Based on several tweets, Vince Chandler, a digital content strategist and award-winning filmmaker active in BLM, appears to have produced the video. Who financed it? The video doesn’t say. Was it a campaign expense, a personal expense or an in-kind donation? Anderson said he had “huddled with his advisers.” You can’t divorce this from politics. It is politics.
And sure, there’s nothing wrong with a baby registry. People do it all the time. But Anderson spent ten days building up to a “big announcement” that got most thinking he had a campaign statement. Ultimately, he released a professional video hitting on BLM themes. The baby registry link accompanied an emotive video like only a public figure could do – and supporters flocked to buy things.
One might not think much of this if not for the pattern with Tay Anderson. Indeed, this isn’t the first time he’s brought attention to himself that resulted in gifts or money for him.
On July 29, while protesting Denver Police outside a homeless encampment that officers were trying to clear out under orders, Anderson fell during an altercation with police. “I was pushed (by officers),” he claimed. He was said to have sustained a head injury, including a concussion, and was taken to the hospital. There, he was treated and ultimately released. Denver media jumped at the story and gave it attention. Since then, no news coverage has offered follow-up about the actual extent or severity of his injuries. Nor have there been any subsequent reports indicating he sued Denver Police or even filed a formal complaint.
Yet, the day of the incident, a GoFundMe was set up to cover his medical bills because he lacked insurance, with excess proceeds being “donated to others who were injured in this event and to the family of #ElijahMcClain.” The fundraiser was apparently organized by Tiffany Caudill. Caudill is Anderson’s DPS campaign manager.
The effort raised $13,036 in total donations from 340 individuals. Sixty-two donors ($2,997 total) are listed as “Anonymous,” including the largest donor ($700).
Following the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anderson launched his own GoFundMe last Sept. 18 to finance a flight and Airbnb for a group trip to Washington, D.C. 195 donors (including 36 “Anonymous” individuals) contributed $12,842 total to the effort. The left-leaning activist group ProgressNow made the largest donation ($2,500). The trip happened, and it appears Anderson, Caudill and Caudill’s daughter were among the travelers.
Importantly, by all accounts Anderson is unemployed. For example, his LinkedIn profile only lists DPS Restorative Practices Coordinator from Dec. 2018-Dec. 2019 and a School Board Director since then. The DPS position doesn’t pay.
I emailed Anderson and Caudill about these important issues of how GoFundMe funds were used and Anderson’s sources of income, but as of deadline Wednesday, I hadn’t heard back. I also would like to ask him about his housing — how he pays for it — and how he will help pay for his new son’s accommodations.
The question of how self-described “Dad-Elect” Anderson is paying his daily bills is not immaterial when he’s benefited from things like multiple online fundraisers and a high-profile baby registry. Given his position as a board member for Colorado’s largest school district and prominence as an activist in a significant political movement, it’s time for Tay Anderson to account for himself.