Political leanings: Democratic
2020 total spending: $150.8 million
The group is what’s known as a hybrid PAC or “Carey committee.” That means it “has the ability to operate both as a traditional PAC, contributing funds to a candidate’s committee, and as a super PAC, which makes independent expenditures,” according to OpenSecrets. Carey committees must have separate bank accounts for those purposes.
FF PAC was established in 2018 by Future Forward USA Action, a liberal advocacy group which says its mission is “to help rebuild America’s middle class — and American democracy — by advancing new ideas and fresh perspectives.”
Chauncey McLean, who previously served as director of media tracking for the Democratic Party in 2012, serves as the hybrid PAC’s president. McLean’s strategy during the 2012 election “revolutionized political ad buying” by using data to target ads to the most persuadable voters, according to the New York Times.
In the 2020 election cycle, FF PAC received over $61 million in donations from its parent organization, which is a 501(c)(4) — a nonprofit that doesn’t have to disclose its donors. The hybrid PAC also received over $7 million from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, another so-called dark money group that isn’t required to reveal its donors.
The PAC has spent over $8.8 million, with more than $5.4 million on independent expenditures, or ads, according to FEC filings as of Aug. 31.
The hybrid PAC spent a total of $150.8 million, including more than $141 million on independent expenditures during the 2020 election cycle — the most of any Carey committee and the second most of any liberal political committee, according to an analysis of campaign finance data by OpenSecrets.
The group directed the vast majority of its independent expenditures to support Biden in his campaign against then-President Donald Trump, spending more than $74 million on ads supporting Biden and about $54 million opposing Trump.
More than $100 million of its independent expenditures were made in the final five weeks of the election, according to ABC News, citing Kantar/CMAG data. The group aired its TV ads in key swing states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida, targeting moderate voters by criticizing the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighting Biden’s focus on bipartisanship.
In addition to the presidential race, FF PAC directed the remainder of its spending to races that pitted Democratic challengers against Republican incumbents. It spent almost $11 million to support MJ Hegar’s unsuccessful race against Sen. John Cornyn in Texas, and about $1 million in its failed attempt to unseat Sen. Susan Collins in Maine.
FF PAC reported raising $151.4 million from donors in the 2020 election cycle, according to the Federal Election Commission. About $61 million of this sum came from its affiliated 501(c)(4).
Much of the group’s individual contributions come from “Silicon Valley megadonors,” as Vox dubbed them. FF PAC’s top individual donor in 2020 was Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook, who contributed almost $46 million. Other notable donors included Samuel Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, who gave $5 million. Jeffrey Lawson, CEO of Twilio, and his wife, Erica, each donated $2.5 million.
As of Aug. 31, the PAC had received only three donations from individuals. The largest donation came from Stephen Mandel Jr, the founder and a managing director of the hedge fund Lone Pine Capital, who donated $5 million. The other two donors, Jeffrey Lawson, the CEO of Twillo, and his wife, Erica, each donated $250,000.