By Zachary Stieber
Nearly $12 million is missing in financial disclosures for a super political action committee for President Joe Biden, prompting calls for an investigation.
Future Forward said that it received $3.4 million from its associated nonprofit, Future Forward USA Action. But Future Forward USA Action said in tax documents that it passed $15.3 million to Future Forward.
Chauncey McLean, who worked on former President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, leads both Future Forward and its nonprofit.
Future Forward did not respond to requests for comment.
The Washington Free Beacon first reported on the discrepancy.
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), requesting the discrepancy be investigated because it appeared to violate federal law.
Future Forward “has failed to disclose the receipt of approximately $12 million,” the complaint states. It called on the FEC to “launch a full investigation of this complaint by issuing subpoenas for documents and testimony.”
“The question is, where did that money go?” Paul Kamenar, NLPC counsel, told The Epoch Times. Future Forward, he said, “has some explaining to do here with respect to the non-disclosure.”
NLPC also says that Future Forward USA Action should have disclosed the identity of its donors because the donations appear to have been earmarked for Future Forward, with the nonprofit acting as a mere conduit.
“They’ve got to disclose who the donors were to the nonprofit, because those are really the donors to the PAC,” Mr. Kamenar said.
Similar investigations have resulted in fines.
The American Conservative Union, for instance, reported receiving $1.7 million and promptly directing them to a PAC, but did not disclose the identity of the donor. The FEC determined (pdf) that violated a law that says “No person shall make a contribution in the name of another person or knowingly permit his name to be used to effect such a contribution, and no person shall knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another person.”
The FEC fined the union $350,000.
An FEC spokeswoman told The Epoch Times: “The FEC does not comment on potential or pending complaints. By law, all enforcement matters must remain confidential until they’re closed.”
The commission says that it investigates possible violations uncovered through various means, including reviews of campaign finance reports, audits, and complaints.
The complaint will be processed by the FEC and likely sent to Future Forward, which will have an opportunity to lodge a defense.
Watchdogs Support Probe
Future Forward had submitted the $3.4 million number to the FEC, a figure far below the $15.3 million represented as going to Future Forward in documents sent to the IRS by Future Forward USA Action.
Watchdogs said the missing money should trigger a probe.
“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, told the Free Beacon. “This situation calls for an investigation.”
Jason Torchinsky, a nonprofit attorney, also supports an FEC investigation.
“If the FEC determined that there were $12 million in underreported receipts by a super PAC, that could result in a substantial fine because FEC penalties are often assessed based on the amount at issue,” Mr. Torchinsky said.
A probe could result in fines and even criminal penalties, depending on the results.
If a probe does not take place, then the NLPC is prepared to file a legal complaint against the FEC “for not enforcing their laws and regulations,” Mr. Kamenar said.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Top Biden administration officials have praised Future Forward.
Anita Dunn, a top adviser to President Biden, recently said that Future Forward was “the pre-eminent super PAC supporting the Biden-Harris agenda and 2024 efforts.”
The super PAC was “critical” in helping President Biden win the 2020 election and would “again play a key role in 2024,” added Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, a White House official who served as the president’s 2020 campaign manager.
Those comments came after President Biden in 2022 said dark money was a “serious problem facing our democracy” and announced his support for a law crafted by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). The law, known as the DISCLOSE Act, would require nonprofits and super PACs to make public the names of people and entities that donate at least $10,000 in a single election cycle.
Some Republicans suggested Future Forward is on their radar.
“For decades, PACs have had to follow disclosure requirements and there’s no exception for groups with ties to Team Biden. Sunlight is the best disinfectant and ultimately helps build Americans’ confidence in our elections,” Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Administration Committee, told the Washington Examiner.
“Any organization that appears to be skirting federal transparency laws ought to be investigated,” added Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a member of the Freedom Caucus. “I’d imagine if this were a pro-Republican organization, the likelihood of such an investigation would be a near certainty.”