Silicon Valley Megadonors Go All In for Biden: $100 Million Anti-Trump Ad Blitz

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds his phone as he arrives at Atlanta International Airport on October 27, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Biden is campaigning in Georgia on Tuesday, with scheduled stops in Atlanta and Warm Springs. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A little-known super PAC backed by major donors from Silicon Valley and boosted by massive amounts of left-wing “dark money” is unleashing tens of millions of dollars in attack ads against President Trump in the final weeks of the presidential campaign in order to boost Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in battleground states, with an unprecedented $100-million-plus dedicated to the calculated effort that began in late September.

The super PAC, named Future Forward, became the largest Democratic PAC in just one month, with unprecedented election spending in the last month leading up to elections. 

According to media-tracking firm Advertising Analytics, while remaining under the radar, the PAC is on pace to spend over $100 million on TV and digital ads in support of Biden in the final month of the campaign and is currently airing anti-Trump ads throughout battleground states. 

The unprecedented spending by the little-known PAC has outdone every other group on behalf of Biden, outside of the Biden campaign itself, by nearly four times and is in large part due to contributions from Silicon Valley billionaires and dark money sources. 

On Tuesday, Future Forward reported to the Federal Election Commission that it raised $66 million alone in just the six weeks between September 1 and October 15 — a haul powered by Silicon Valley billionaires, with $29 million of the October money coming from left-wing dark money groups and through the PAC’s affiliated nonprofit, which isn’t required to disclose donors.

Ironically, despite running the largest super PAC funded by billionaires, corporations, and dark money, the PAC’s bare-bone site calls for “serious campaign finance reform” in order to “reduce the influence of big corporations and billionaires on our elected officials.

Future Forward is led by Chauncey McLean, a former Democratic Party operative credited with revolutionizing the way Democrats target voters through television ads in the 2012 election for former President Barack Obama.

Until late September, the biggest-spending Democratic super PAC in the general election had aired only a single television ad during the campaign.

In July 2018, Future Forward published an ad aimed at convincing voters that Trump doesn’t serve the interests of the masses.

Entitled “Happy,” the ad depicted three separate constituencies supporting Trump’s policies. 

“These people are happy with the direction of the country,” the ad says after showing groups of white nationalists, wealthy tycoons, and Putin-supporting Russians.

“The idea is pretty simple: it is shocking that the people who are most happy with the direction of the country are also the most evil,” Nick Kaplan and Tim Gordon, the creators of the ad, told Ad Week in July of 2018.

The bulk of Future Forward’s donations have hailed from Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz ($22 million) who has extensively researched how to have the greatest impact on voters. Along with Future Forward, he believes getting a strong message out immediately prior to voting is the ideal strategy, Recode reported.

In addition to Moskovitz, an array of Silicon Valley donors have contributed to Future Forward, including longtime Google CEO Eric Schmidt ($2.5 million) who served as an informal tech adviser to the Clinton campaign and was closely involved in building Obama’s 2012 voter-targeting operation.

New York Times reporter Ken Vogel first spotted the Schmidt donation, highlighting the fact that Schmidt, the ex-CEO of Google and former chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, who served as technical advisor to the company up until February (and still holds about $5.3 billion in the company’s stock), was serving as a chairman on the Defense Innovation Board, an advisory group aimed at bringing new technology to the Pentagon, while donating to the anti-Trump PAC.  

“Knowing that individuals who openly despise and undermine President Trump serve on those boards while only two of 15 people on our campaign’s national security advisory committee landed positions in the administration is nothing short of horrendous,” said J.D. Gordon, who served as the Trump campaign’s national security adviser, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Schmidt has increased his donations to Future Forward since, with reported donations of over $2.5 million.  

Other contributors include: Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson and his wife Erica Lawson ($6.5 million); Crypto trader Sam Bankman-Fried ($5 million); Former chairman and CEO of Twitter, Evan Williams, who also founded Blogger and Medium, two of the largest and most notable internet platforms ($2.5 million); and Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, philanthropist Patty Quillin ($1 million).

Aside from the $29 million of dark money raised in the first two week of October through the PAC’s affiliated 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Future Forward USA Action, FEC reports show an additional $3.9 million from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, another dark money group that has injected tens of millions into Democratic super PACs. 

The Sixteen Thirty Fund has been characterized as one of the “key groups founded to resist Trump” by the left-leaning Atlantic while Politico has called it a “massive ‘dark money’ network” responsible for “boost[ing] Democrats” in the 2018 midterm elections.

Another listed dark money donor to Future Forward is the Democracy PAC ($1 million), a super PAC created by leftist billionaire George Soros in 2019 for the purpose of influencing the 2020 presidential election. 

The group’s ambitions are not limited to the presidential race. 

In a confidential four-page memo circulated to major donors last week and obtained by Recode, Future Forward and four other Democratic outside groups (Senate Majority PAC, the Strategic Victory Fund, Way to Win, and Mind the Gap) planned $28 million in advertising to boost MJ Hegar, the Democrat challenging Texas Sen. John Cornyn in an uphill race, of which $10 million was expected to come from Senate Majority PAC while another $18 million needed to be raised as of last week.

“Based on an extensive analysis undertaken by Future Forward PAC and Senate Majority PAC (SMP), we believe that Democrats have a plausible chance to flip the TX Senate seat with a major financial investment in the race over the next week,” the memo reads. “We can push the odds of victory up significantly—from 23% to 35-55%—by blitzing the airwaves in the final two weeks.”

Since that memo, Senate Majority PAC announced an $8.6 million campaign in Texas to boost Hegar. 

Despite accepting unprecedented amounts of dark money sources, in August the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had adopted a ban on accepting dark money in its 2020 platform.

While Democrats argue that the only way they can rein in big money in politics is to first use it to win, Republicans, who generally oppose major campaign finance reform efforts, have noted the hypocrisy.

“It’s just like everything else Biden stands for. He believes it until it’s of political benefit to reverse himself,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh.

In addition to the millions being pumped into political ads, Big Tech has been suppressing speech potentially damaging to Biden. 

Just last week the Republican National Committee (RNC) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) which stated that it “believes that Twitter has violated FECA and the Commission’s Regulations by making corporate in-kind contributions to Biden for President.”

Big Tech’s censorship of election-related content has continued to rise with Twitter repeatedly censoring the President as well as users posting about mail-in voter fraud and with multiple social media platforms censoring a bombshell New York Post story alleging that Biden engaged in a corruption scandal.

On Tuesday, Breitbart News reported how Google, the world’s most powerful technology company, is actively interfering in the coming election by burying links to Breitbart News articles in its search results.

Last week, Google program manager Ritesh Lakhkar slammed the selective censorship that’s deployed by Google and other corporations.

“I disagree with the corporations playing God and taking away freedom of speech on both sides,” Lakhkar added.

As the nation enters into the final week leading up to the election, with unprecedented donations from Silicon Valley megadonors, major tech founders and executives, including those of Facebook, Google and Twitter, have been devoting staggering amounts of time, funding and effort to steer the elections through wide scale speech suppression along with major dark money contributions.

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.

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