by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden last year condemned so-called dark money as a “serious problem facing our democracy.” Now, the unpopular Democrat is embracing a super PAC that experts say used an illegal scheme to conceal its donors.
The group, Future Forward, is led by former Obama campaign officials and has earned endorsements from Bidenworld as the “pre-eminent super PAC” supporting the president’s reelection bid. Central to Future Forward’s success is its ability to raise massive sums of money—nearly $400 million in the past five years—to run ads boosting Biden and other Democrats in battleground states. But the tactics Future Forward used to anonymously raise much of that money could lead to its downfall, legal experts told the Washington Free Beacon.
The Biden-endorsed super PAC’s largest donor is its affiliated dark money group, Future Forward USA Action, which as a nonprofit is not required to publicly disclose its donors. Should a donor direct the nonprofit to transfer their donation to Future Forward, however, the super PAC must reveal the donor’s identity in federal campaign finance disclosures. Future Forward USA Action in its 2021 tax filings acknowledged that it “promptly and directly delivered” $3.4 million in donations to Future Forward—a designation that would require the super PAC to reveal donor identities, according to former Federal Election Commission chairman Bradley Smith. However, Future Forward declined to disclose who contributed the cash.
For Republican election lawyer Charlie Spies, Future Forward’s failure to disclose donors who routed money through the dark money affiliate is a violation of federal election law. Spies noted that similar schemes have led to federal charges and “major fines.”
“Future Forward USA Action admitted to making over $3 million in earmarked political contributions, where they apparently obscured the true super PAC donor’s identity by routing the money through the nonprofit,” Spies told the Free Beacon.