Amid Ethics Scandal, Biden's Favorite Super PAC Taps White House Staffers For Ad Blitz

Future Forward may have illegally concealed donors from the public, watchdog says

President Joe Biden / Getty Images
September 22, 2023

President Joe Biden’s favorite super PAC is deepening its ties to the White House as it faces allegations of illegally concealing its donors from the public.

Future Forward and its affiliated dark money nonprofit tapped former White House officials Cristóbal Alex and Pili Tobar to lead a seven-figure ad campaign targeting Latino voters in swing states, the Washington Post reported. The campaign will run concurrently with a $25 million ad buy from the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee, all of which will cast the octogenarian president "as an active and vibrant leader," the Post reported.

Future Forward’s dark money ties could land the group in legal trouble. A Federal Election Commission complaint filed against Future Forward in August noted that the super PAC used its dark money affiliate to conceal some of the donors behind its $400 million bankroll in a manner similar to past cases that resulted in fines and criminal convictions for other political activists, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Biden’s partnership with Future Forward, which has earned endorsements from his aides as the "pre-eminent super PAC" supporting his reelection bid, comes less than a year after the president endorsed a Democratic bill that pledged to end the "scourge of dark money" corrupting American democracy. Biden condemned dark money as a "serious problem facing our democracy" last year.

But Future Forward relies on dark money to keep its lights on. The group claimed to reporters in July it had raised $50 million in the first half of 2023, but subsequent campaign finance disclosures revealed that the overwhelming majority of those funds were delivered to its dark money affiliate, Future Forward USA Action. Future Forward’s dark money group will pay for the Latino ad campaign, but the donors bankrolling the effort will be kept secret, and the group won’t have to disclose its 2023 finances to the IRS until after the 2024 election.

Future Forward also has a glaring $12 million gap in its financial disclosures, the Free Beacon reported. Its dark money affiliate reported to the IRS it gave $15.3 million to the super PAC in 2021. But Future Forward reported to the Federal Election Commission it only received $3.4 million from the dark money group in 2023.

"The apparent numerous and blatant discrepancies in the recent filings by both the nonprofit and the super PAC are beyond troubling," said Kendra Arnold, executive director of watchdog group Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust.

Alex and Tobar aren’t the first former Biden officials to join forces with Future Forward. Biden dispatched his 2020 campaign finance director, Katie Petrelius, to the super PAC in July to help raise money for the group, according to the New York Times.

And senior Biden adviser Anita Dunn, who consulted for Future Forward before joining the White House, hinted that the president may soon headline fundraisers for the super PAC.

The White House did not return a request for comment.