After introducing a bill that contained provisions geared towards tackling dark money in politics, House Democrats have a new dark money group in their corner.
House Majority Forward, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that will not have to disclose its donors, was established in March. It marks its charitable purpose in North Carolina filings as promoting "economic growth and opportunity, environmental stewardship, and democracy in the United States of America." The group plans to raise at least $20 million throughout 2019 to back Democrats and attack Republicans, and will begin airing the first of its digital and TV ads this week as part of a larger $10 million advertising blitz for the year, Politico reports.
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The new ad highlights bills being "blocked" by Republicans in Congress, bills to reduce drug costs, expand gun control, provide a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, and—despite House Majority Forward being itself a dark money nonprofit—HR 1, or the For the People Act. Introduced by House Democrats in January, HR 1 contained a provision for the disclosure of major donors who give to 501(c)(4) nonprofits.
House Majority Forward will share staff with the House Majority PAC, a committee linked to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, including the PAC's executive director Abby Curran Horrell and its president Robby Mook, who formerly served as the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's failed 2016 effort.
Other officers and members of the board of directors include: Ali Lapp, founder of the House Majority PAC, who also sits on the board of Eric Holder's National Democratic Redistricting Committee; Jesse Ferguson, who worked with Mook on Clinton's 2016 campaign; Phil Schiliro, a former Obama White House aide; Heather Stone, Mook's chief of staff on Clinton's 2016 campaign; and Brian Wolff, a lobbyist and Pelosi ally.
House Majority Forward mirrors Majority Forward, a dark money group tied to Senate Democrats and affiliated with the Senate Majority PAC, a committee aligned with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.). Majority Forward and the Senate Majority PAC share personnel and office space, with both led by J.B Poersch, a Schumer ally. The relationship has been described as "ridiculously cozy" by watchdog groups.
Majority Forward poured $46 million into the 2018 election cycle supporting Democrats, and accounted for nearly a third of the $150 million total spent by all groups that do not disclose their donors, making it by far the largest dark money spender of the cycle. Throughout the midterm elections, liberal dark money groups outspent their conservative counterparts, 54 to 39 percent.
Democrats also have the help of another new secret money group for the 2020 election cycle. Future Majority, a Washington, D.C.-based strategy center, was launched by a group of Democratic strategists to "rebrand" the party and focus on midwestern states, a target of many liberal donors and groups. The group plans to spend $60 million leading up to the 2020 elections.