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Legal experts call for probe of Biden’s favorite Super PAC for ‘serious’ financial discrepancies

Future Forward’s reporting errors are ‘beyond concern’, says watchdog

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden’s favorite super PAC has a $12 million gap in its financial disclosures, a Washington Free Beacon investigation found, prompting legal experts to call for immediate investigations into the “disturbing” discrepancy.

Future Forward, which the Biden White House has endorsed as the “preeminent super PAC” supporting the president’s 2021 re-election bid claimed he received just $3.4 million in cash from his affiliated dark money group. But that group, the nonprofit Future Forward USA Action, reported its 2021 IRS tax return which provided $15.3 million to the super PAC that year. The missing $12 million is one of several errors in the group’s finances, errors that experts say are serious enough to warrant a federal investigation.

“The apparent numerous and glaring discrepancies in recent filings by both the nonprofit and the super PAC are beyond troubling,” said Kendra Arnold, executive director of the watchdog group Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. “This situation requires an investigation,” Arnold said, adding that the stark divergence in the numbers reported in the groups’ financial disclosures “is a telltale sign of inaccuracies and a deeper problem.” Nonprofit attorney Jason Torchinsky echoed that call, saying an apparent failure to report millions in contributions “would be a serious matter that the Federal Election Commission would investigate.”

An investigation into Future Forward could prove to be a thorn in Biden’s side heading into the 2024 election. The group, which is led by former Obama campaign officials, has quietly raised nearly $400 million in recent five years to run ads supporting Biden and Democrats in battleground states. Much of Future Forward’s funding came from Future Forward USA Action, which as a nonprofit is not required to publicly disclose its donors. While Biden said in September that dark money “erodes public trust” and poses a “serious problem facing our democracy,” White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jennifer O’Malley Dillon months later said Future Forward “would play a key role” in supporting Biden’s re-election bid.

Both Future Forward and Future Forward USA Action did not respond to detailed questions about the gaps in their financial disclosures.

Typically, when a super PAC discloses contributions from a dark money group, the numbers will match what the dark money group reports on its IRS tax returns. But in the case of Future Forward, there are several glaring discrepancies in its disclosures to the IRS and the FEC.

In 2021, Future Forward USA Action reported to its IRS tax return which provided $15.3 million to the super PAC that year. Future Forward should have reported the same number in its reports to the FEC. But instead, the super PAC claimed received just $3.4 million from its sister dark money group in 2021. The remaining $12 million is not fully accounted for in the super PAC’s reports, a discrepancy that Arnold called “beyond concern.”

“If the submissions are not accurate, they are not only useless, they are misleading,” Arnold said. free lighthouse.

Nonprofit attorney Jason Torchinsky said the discrepancies in Future Forward’s reporting are a “serious matter” that could result in substantial fines for the group.

“It seems very strange to tell the IRS that you sent $15 million to a super PAC, but only have this report of $3 million,” Torchinsky said. free lighthouse. “If the FEC determined that there were $12 million in receipts by a super PAC, that could result in a substantial fine because FEC penalties are often assessed based on the amount in question.”

The $3.4 million accounted for in Future Forward’s 2021 reports could also land the group in legal trouble, the free lighthouse reported. Future Forward’s dark money arm disclosed in another section of its 2021 IRS tax return that those funds did indeed go to the super PAC, meaning the group should have disclosed the original donors to the FEC. But Future Forward declined to reveal who provided the cash.

“Future Forward USA Action admitted to making more than $3 million in earmarked political contributions where they apparently concealed the identity of the real super PAC donor by sending the money through the nonprofit,” said the Republican election lawyer Charlie Spies. free lighthouse. “The US DOJ has sent people to prison for this type of illegal activity, and the FEC has imposed large fines on conservative organizations accused of a less egregious fate.”

Future Forward reports from 2018 to 2020 contain even more discrepancies. The Super PAC appears to have no dedicated staff, as it has never reported making a payroll expense, according to its FEC presentations. Instead, the super PAC uses the services of staff from its affiliated dark money group. Such arrangements are legal and common, but in the case of Future Forward, the two groups disclosed radically different amounts of in-kind staff donations each year between 2018 and 2020.

For example, Future Forward reported at the FEC received $467,204 in in-kind staff contributions from the dark money group in 2020. But the dark money group claimed at the IRS provided only $67,479 in in-kind staff time to the super PAC that same year. The numbers should be an exact match, but instead they’ve been discounted by a factor of nearly seven.

Earlier in 2018 and 2019, the Future Forward dark money group claimed to have provided $0 worth of in-kind staff services to the PAC. But in those same years, Future Forward said it received a combined $137,000 worth of in-kind staffing services from its dark money subsidiary.

“There must be an independent audit of both groups for these egregious discrepancies and an investigation and possible enforcement action by both the IRS and the FEC,” said Paul Kamenar, a group attorney for control of the National Legal and Policy Center.

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