Biden's Favorite Super PAC Quietly Alters Incriminating Financial Disclosures Following Free Beacon Report
Future Forward used an illegal scheme to conceal its donors, experts say
President Joe Biden’s super PAC quietly altered its tax filings just three days after the Washington Free Beacon reported the group appeared to engage in an illegal scheme to hide its donors from the public.
Future Forward originally disclosed that it used its affiliated dark money nonprofit in 2021 to conceal some of the donors behind its $400 million windfall, a process that has resulted in convictions for other political activists, the Free Beacon reported on Aug. 14. The group’s financial disclosures were also rife with other glaring discrepancies, the Free Beacon reported, such as a $12 million gap in its reports to the IRS and Federal Election Commission.
Though Future Forward, which is run by former Obama campaign officials, refused to comment publicly about the discrepancies, it moved swiftly behind the scenes to clean up its act. On Aug. 17, its dark money affiliate, Future Forward USA Action, filed an amended 2021 tax return reversing its claims that it served as a pass-through to conceal the super PAC’s donors and accounting for the $12 million discrepancy.
Future Forward largely relies on its dark money affiliate to keep the lights on. The group claimed in July it had raised $50 million in the first half of 2023, but subsequent FEC filings showed that nearly all those funds were routed through Future Forward USA Action. And while Biden recently condemned dark money as a “serious problem facing our democracy,” his top aides have endorsed Future Forward as the “pre-eminent super PAC” supporting his reelection bid.
Most recently, in September, Future Forward tapped former Biden administration officials Cristóbal Alex and Pili Tobar to lead a seven-figure ad campaign targeting Latino voters in swing states, which ran concurrently with a $25 million ad buy from the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
In its original IRS tax filing, Future Forward USA Action told the IRS it received $3.4 million in 2021 that it “promptly and directly” delivered to the super PAC. Former FEC chairman Bradley Smith said the designation requires Future Forward to reveal the original donors of the funds to the public, but the super PAC declined to disclose who contributed the cash. Federal authorities sentenced a Puerto Rico activist to 14 months in prison in 2022 for similarly using his dark money group to launder funds to his super PAC.
But in its amended filing on Aug. 17, Future Forward USA Action claimed the $3.4 million came from its general treasury, which, if true, would allow the super PAC to legally conceal the source of the funds from the public. Kendra Arnold, the executive director of the watchdog group Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, said there’s no reason to blindly trust that Future Forward is telling the truth in its revised disclosure.
“At times these types of errors do happen and are corrected by revised filings, but this correction is particularly odd,” Arnold told the Free Beacon. “The question is whether the first filing was a clerical error or if they accidentally told the truth. Along with the other issues and discrepancies with this particular PAC, this does warrant further investigation.”
Future Forward USA Action’s revised filing also purportedly resolves a $12 million hole in its original disclosures. The group reported in its original tax filing to the IRS that it contributed $15.3 million to Future Forward in 2021, but the super PAC reported to the FEC that it only took in $3.4 million from the nonprofit that same year.
The $15.3 million figure disappeared altogether from the dark money group’s revised Aug. 17 filing, bringing its reporting in line with Future Forward’s disclosures with the FEC. Future Forward did not return a request for comment.
The National Legal and Policy Center watchdog group filed a complaint with the FEC in August alleging Future Forward’s apparent failure to account for the $12 million from its dark money affiliate in its original disclosure was an “egregious violation of FEC laws.”
National Legal and Policy Center attorney Paul Kamenar said the unexplained changes to Future Forward’s amended tax filings shouldn’t be enough to stave off federal scrutiny.
“The FEC and the IRS need to investigate this group for these reporting irregularities and other possible violations to get to the truth,” Kamenar said.