Biden Says He Hates Dark Money. His Favorite Super PAC Would Be Broke Without It.

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
December 14, 2023

President Joe Biden’s favorite super PAC is almost exclusively funded by a dark money group bankrolled by George Soros, financial disclosures obtained by the Washington Free Beacon show.

Future Forward has raised just $14 million since Biden took office, but its dark money affiliate, Future Forward USA Action, has raised over $129 million in that same time. The group’s latest tax filings show that almost all its funding in 2022 came from just 26 donors, including a $15 million gift from the Soros-funded Open Society Policy Center. The Hopewell Fund, a member of the Arabella Advisors dark money network, donated $1.5 million to Future Forward USA Action in 2022.

Future Forward’s fundraising largesse could open Biden to charges of hypocrisy. The president has repeatedly called dark money a threat to democracy and has endorsed legislative efforts to curtail its influence on American politics. Still, Biden has moved in recent months to elevate Future Forward and its dark money affiliate as the "preeminent super PAC" supporting his 2024 campaign.

Americans for Public Trust executive director Caitlin Sutherland lambasted Biden for allying with such a massive dark money operation for his political benefit after he claimed, "dark money erodes public trust" in September.

"President Biden has tried to portray himself as a crusader against dark money in politics, but the recent filing by Future Forward USA Action shows his reelection efforts are fueled by it," Sutherland told the Free Beacon. "Hypocrisy like this only lowers trust in our elected officials. It’s no surprise that after this dark money group spent tens of millions to support him, Americans still remain unconvinced by Biden’s agenda."

Future Forward’s operations are closely intertwined with its dark money affiliate: Federal Election Commission records show the super PAC has no employees of its own and keeps its lights on thanks to cash infusions and donated time from Future Forward USA Action’s staff.

Nor do Future Forward leaders seem to distinguish between the super PAC and its dark money affiliate when speaking to the press. A spokesman for the super PAC told the New York Times in July it had raised $50 million during the first half of 2023. Subsequent FEC filings revealed its dark money affiliate raised all but $11,000 of that haul.

Future Forward has great aspirations for 2024. Its leader, Obama campaign veteran Chauncey McLean, told the New York Times in July his group aims to raise "as much as humanly possible" and plans to run the largest super PAC advertising operation in history for Biden’s benefit. Several Biden administration officials have left the White House in recent months to work for Future Forward, and the president’s top aides have suggested Biden will headline fundraisers for the group.

Future Forward USA Action was reluctant to provide its 2022 tax filing to the Free Beacon. The IRS requires dark money groups to provide their taxes within the close of business to anyone who makes an in-person request at their office. But nobody answered the door when the Free Beacon visited the group’s office in Palo Alto, California, last Tuesday to request their records. And Future Forward’s accountants in Washington, D.C., dragged their feet after the Free Beacon requested the records at their office the same day.

The accounting firm, MBA Consulting Group, ultimately relented and mailed a copy of Future Forward USA Action’s 2022 tax return to the Free Beacon on Thursday after being reminded the group was violating federal law by failing to provide its taxes upon request.

Future Forward USA Action has other legal issues on its plate. The group altered its 2021 taxes in August just three days after the Free Beacon reported a series of glaring discrepancies in its original reporting, as well as its apparent use of an illegal scheme to hide its donors from the public.

Although Future Forward USA Action’s amended filing purportedly fixed the issues the Free Beacon identified, the group will still have to answer to an FEC complaint filed in August by the National Legal and Policy Center, which alleged the group's conduct violated federal law.

"Joe Biden's super PAC's failure to fully disclose and account for millions of dollars funneled to it from uber-rich donors to its related dark money group is not only an egregious violation of FEC laws, but also hypocritical considering Biden's public statements against such dark money groups," said Paul Kamenar, an attorney with the watchdog group.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Susannah Luthi contributed to this report.