Non-profit

Majority Forward

Website:

www.majorityforward.com

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

47-4368320

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $34,177,016
Expenses: $35,766,803
Assets: $2,005,498

Formation:

2015

Type:

Voter Registration and Turnout Group

President:

Rebecca Lambe

Latest Tax Filing:

2019 Form 990

Majority Forward is a Democratic Party-aligned advocacy group that campaigns against Republicans and conservative causes. It works on voter registration and voter turnout operations. It is associated with the Senate Majority PAC and has established working relationships with other left-of-center groups such as Vote Vets.

The organization was founded in 2015. In the 2016 election cycle, Rebecca Lambe, the former chief political strategist for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), led Majority Forward. [1]

J.B. Poersch, the former head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and president of Senate Majority PAC, led Majority Forward in 2018. [2]

The left-leaning Center for Responsive Politics has raised concerns about the organization’s compliance with IRS tax-exemption rules. Tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organizations like Majority Forward (which CRP characterizes as “dark money”) are limited in their political expenditures, and CRP questioned whether Majority Forward had exceeded the limits. [3]

Ties to Senate Majority PAC

Majority Forward is associated with Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC aligned with Democratic leadership in the U.S. Senate and controlled by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The two organizations often share personnel: Majority Forward founder Rebecca Lambe is a former Senate Majority PAC staffer, and J.B.Poersch simultaneously served as president of Senate Majority PAC and Majority Forward. [4] Susan McCue is a co-founder of Senate Majority PAC. [5]

The two organizations have a cost-sharing agreement. The two organizations share office space and staff. In the second half of 2015, Majority Forward reimbursed Senate Majority PAC over $300,000 for staff, office space, and other expenses. [6]

Policy Advocacy

Majority Forward’s first campaign activity was spending $3.4 million on digital ads to urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to hold hearings for then-President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, federal appellate judge Merrick Garland. [7]

Electoral Activities

2016 Cycle

Majority Forward spent heavily on the Senate race in Pennsylvania, with nearly $6 million in expenditures attempting to defeat U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). [8]

The group was most active in New Hampshire. The group ran digital ads and ran $2.4 million worth of “issue ads” which do not have to be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission targeting then-U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). The organization also provided ground support to Ayotte’s opponent, Democratic candidate Maggie Hassan. Hassan eventually narrowly defeated Ayotte. [9]

The organization was also active in Kentucky, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin. [10]

2018 Cycle

Around Memorial Day in 2017, Majority Forward ran TV and digital issue advertisements in Arizona, Indiana, Nevada, Montana, and North Dakota. The group coordinated with Vote Vets for advertisements in Missouri. [11]

In June 2017, Friends of the Earth, CREDO Action, and Climate Hawks Vote objected to Majority Forward’s advertising in support of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). The groups objected to the advertisements because they were pro-coal. The groups demanded “total resistance” to President Donald Trump’s policies. Eventually, the groups gained over 157,000 signatures opposing Majority Forward from the left. [12]

The group also teamed up with Vote Vets to air ads in Montana attacking Republican Senate candidate Matt Rosendale on veterans’ issues. [13] The group wound up being the largest outside spender in the Montana U.S. Senate race, spending $4.2 million; Democratic incumbent Jon Tester was reelected. [14]

In the end, Majority Forward reported spending around $46 million in the 2018 election cycle. [15]

As of September 2018, Majority Forward had spent $5.6 million on Senate races in five states. The group produced two ads attacking Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott over budget cuts and environmentalist issues. [16]

Tax records released in June 2021 show that Majority Forward donated nearly $2.7 million in 2018 to left-of-center nonprofit group Coalition for a Safe and Secure America (CSSA). [17] Axios reported that CSSA ran digital ads accusing Republican U.S. Senate candidates of being dishonest about their positions on issues like gun control, taxes, and immigration. [18]

In May 2021, left-leaning watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint to the IRS alleging that the CSSA failed to report its political activities on its 2018 tax return. [19] CREW president Noah Bookbinder said, “Coalition for a Safe Secure America appears to have falsely told the IRS they were not involved in politics. Dark money groups too often bypass the law in their efforts to secretly and improperly influence who is elected.” [20]

2019 Government Shutdown

Majority Forward targeted Republican Senators during the 2019 federak government shutdown. The group spent $600,000 on TV advertisements in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, and North Carolina.[21][22]

2020 Cycle

Federal Election Commission (FEC) campaign finance records reveal that Majority Forward was heavily active in the 2020 election cycle, contributing more than $60 million to Democrat affiliated PACs. [23] Majority Forward’s largest contributions, approximately $50 million in total, were made to the Senate Majority PAC (SMP), the organization’s associated PAC. [24] Majority Forward was far and away the single largest donor to the SMP during 2020, and accounted for 13 percent of the organizations revenue. [25] SMP spent $200 million during 2020 on ads attacking Republican senate candidates including David Perdue, John James, Thom Tillis, Susan Collins, Joni Ernst, and Martha McSally, and supporting their Democratic challengers. [26]

Majority Forward was the sole fiscal sponsor of two smaller PACs during 2020 as well: North Star and Let’s Turn Colorado Blue. [27] [28] North Star, a Democratic-affiliated PAC operating in Alaska, received $7 million from Majority Forward and spent $6.9 million on ads attacking Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan and supporting his challenger Al Gross. [29] Let’s Turn Colorado Blue, another Democratic-affiliated PAC based in Colorado, received $1.5 million from Majority Forward and spent it all on ads helping Senator John Hickenlooper win the Democratic Party nomination for the senate race. [30]

Information on Majority Forward’s independent expenditures in 2020 was not immediately available because the IRS does not require organizations to make public disclosures available for the first two years after a particular expenditure. This led Wesleyan Media Project, an election research project funded by the left-leaning John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Democracy Fund, to conduct research on the matter: it estimated that by August, 2020, Majority Forward had already spent $23.8 million on independent advertising contractors, buying more than 40,000 ads. [31] According to the Wesleyan Media Project, this made Majority Forward the biggest outside spender in the country on senate campaign ads between July 15 and August 9 of 2020. [32]

In total, it can be conservatively estimated that Majority Forward spent at least $83 million solely on advertisements supporting Democratic senate campaigns in 2020, an extremely high amount for any 501(c)(4) entity.

For reference, the Sixteen Thirty fund, another 501(c)(4) organization which Politico has called a “liberal dark money behemoth” receives far more funding than Majority Forward does every year. [33] But according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Sixteen Thirty Fund spent just $4.3 million on “electioneering communications” in 2020 and gave $62.5 million to PACs aligned with Democrats: an estimated total of $66.8 million spent on campaigns. [34] [35]

Leadership

J.B. Poersch serves as president. Rodell Mollineau and Susan McCue serve as directors. [36]

Funding

Majority Forward is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that is not required to disclose its donors, a setup criticized by some progressive groups as “dark money.” The Tides Foundation reported Majority Forward as a “grantee” on its website, but did not specify the amount contributed. [37]

In 2016, Majority Forward received $2.5 million in contributions from three left-wing 501(c)(4) nonprofits. The Advocacy Fund (formerly Tides Advocacy Fund) contributed $1,500,000 to Majority Forward, NEO Philanthropy Action Fund contributed $500,000 to the group, and Sixteen Thirty Fund gave it $500,000. [38]

Other funders include the American Health Care Association, which gave Majority Forward $200,000 in 2016; the Environmental Defense Action Fund, which  donated $200,000 to it between 2015 and 2016; Fair Share, which gave the group $135,000 between 2016 and 2017; Intercontinental Exchange PAC, which gave it $20,000 in 2016; and the National Education Association, which donated $100,000 to Majority Forward in 2016. [39]

References

  1. “Rebecca Lambe”. 2019. Dark Money Watch. Accessed March 4. http://darkmoneywatch.org/key-players-person/rebecca-lambe/. ^
  2. Sullivan, Sean. “Groups Aligned with Senate Democrats Raise $31.8 Million in 2017, Edging out GOP Counterparts.” The Washington Post. January 30, 2018. Accessed March 04, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2018/01/30/groups-aligned-with-senate-democrats-raise-31-8-million-in-2017-edging-out-gop-counterparts/?utm_term=.c552e0707a40. ^
  3. Maguire, Robert. 2017. “In The Service Of Social Welfare, Democratic Operatives Get IRS Seal Of Approval”. Opensecrets News. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2017/04/service-social-welfare-democratic-operatives-get-irs-seal-approval/. ^
  4. Sullivan, Sean. “Groups Aligned with Senate Democrats Raise $31.8 Million in 2017, Edging out GOP Counterparts.” The Washington Post. January 30, 2018. Accessed March 04, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2018/01/30/groups-aligned-with-senate-democrats-raise-31-8-million-in-2017-edging-out-gop-counterparts/?utm_term=.c552e0707a40. ^
  5. Maguire, Robert. 2017. “In The Service Of Social Welfare, Democratic Operatives Get IRS Seal Of Approval”. Opensecrets News. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2017/04/service-social-welfare-democratic-operatives-get-irs-seal-approval/. ^
  6. Levine, Carrie. 2016. “Democratic Super PAC Aided By Secret Money”. Center For Public Integrity. https://publicintegrity.org/federal-politics/democratic-super-pac-aided-by-secret-money/. ^
  7. Maguire, Robert. 2017. “In The Service Of Social Welfare, Democratic Operatives Get IRS Seal Of Approval”. Opensecrets News. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2017/04/service-social-welfare-democratic-operatives-get-irs-seal-approval/. ^
  8. Maguire, Robert. 2017. “In The Service Of Social Welfare, Democratic Operatives Get IRS Seal Of Approval”. Opensecrets News. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2017/04/service-social-welfare-democratic-operatives-get-irs-seal-approval/. ^
  9. Maguire, Robert, and Ashley Balcerzak. 2016. “In New Hampshire And Other States, Democrats Seem Just Fine With Dark Money”. The Daily Beast. https://www.thedailybeast.com/in-new-hampshire-and-other-states-democrats-seem-just-fine-with-dark-money. ^
  10. Maguire, Robert, and Ashley Balcerzak. 2016. “In New Hampshire And Other States, Democrats Seem Just Fine With Dark Money”. The Daily Beast. https://www.thedailybeast.com/in-new-hampshire-and-other-states-democrats-seem-just-fine-with-dark-money. ^
  11. “Majority Forward Launches More Than $3.5 Million State-Based Issue TV And Digital Ads In Six States: Arizona, Indiana, Nevada, Missouri, Montana & North Dakota”. 2017. PR News Wire. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/majority-forward-launches-more-than-35-million-state-based-issue-tv-and-digital-ads-in-six-states-arizona-indiana-nevada-missouri-montana–north-dakota-300463277.html. ^
  12. “157,000 Call On Schumer’s Majority Forward To Stop Funding Attacks On Public Health And Environment”. 2017. Friends Of The Earth Action. https://foeaction.org/news/call-on-schumer-to-stop/. ^
  13. “Votevets, Majority Forward, Team Up For New Ad On Matt Rosendale’s Horrendous Veterans Record”. 2019. Vote Vets. Accessed March 4. https://m.votevets.org/press/votevets-majority-forward-team-up-for-new-ad-on-matt-rosendales-horrendous-veterans-record. ^
  14. “Liberal ‘Dark Money’ Groups Spent More In 2018 Than Conservative Groups”. 2019. Countable. https://www.countable.us/articles/20103-liberal-dark-money-groups-spent-2018-conservative-groups. ^
  15. “Liberal ‘Dark Money’ Groups Spent More In 2018 Than Conservative Groups”. 2019. Countable. https://www.countable.us/articles/20103-liberal-dark-money-groups-spent-2018-conservative-groups. ^
  16. Lemongello, Steven, and Steven Lemongello. “Rick Scott vs. Bill Nelson: Who Are the outside Groups Spending Millions on the Senate Race?” Orlandosentinel.com. April 06, 2019. Accessed June 03, 2019. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/politics/os-senate-race-pacs-and-spending-20180925-story.html. ^
  17. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Majority Forward. 2018. Schedule I. ^
  18. Markay, Lachlan. “Dems’ Dark-Money Bid Aimed to Paint Josh Hawley as an Anti-Gun Lefty.” Axios, June 2, 2021. https://www.axios.com/democrats-pac-dark-money-josh-hawley-anti-gun-bd77366c-35f6-4ac0-802a-538e0bb7c1d8.html. ^
  19. “CREW Files IRS Complaint against Dark Money Group That Targeted Republicans – CREW: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.” CREW | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, May 13, 2021. https://www.citizensforethics.org/legal-action/legal-complaints/crew-files-irs-complaint-against-dark-money-group-that-targeted-republicans/. ^
  20. “CREW Files IRS Complaint against Dark Money Group That Targeted Republicans – CREW: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.” CREW | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, May 13, 2021. https://www.citizensforethics.org/legal-action/legal-complaints/crew-files-irs-complaint-against-dark-money-group-that-targeted-republicans/. ^
  21. “Liberal ‘Dark Money’ Groups Spent More In 2018 Than Conservative Groups”. 2019. Countable. https://www.countable.us/articles/20103-liberal-dark-money-groups-spent-2018-conservative-groups. ^
  22. Sullivan, Sean. 2019. “Democratic Group To Launch Ads Targeting Six GOP Senators Over Shutdown”. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/democratic-group-to-launch-ads-targeting-six-gop-senators-over-shutdown/2019/01/17/64d2bb2e-1a84-11e9-9ebf-c5fed1b7a081_story.html?utm_term=.46b489f3abc3. ^
  23. “Browse Individual Contributions.” FEC.gov. Accessed May 21, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Majority%2BForward&two_year_transaction_period=2020. ^
  24. “Browse Individual Contributions.” FEC.gov. Accessed May 21, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Majority%2BForward&two_year_transaction_period=2020. ^
  25. “Browse Receipts.” FEC.gov. Accessed May 21, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/?committee_id=C00484642&two_year_transaction_period=2020&data_type=processed. ^
  26. “Browse Independent Expenditures.” FEC.gov. Accessed May 21, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/independent-expenditures/?committee_id=C00484642&two_year_transaction_period=2020&cycle=2020&data_type=processed&is_notice=true. ^
  27. “Browse Receipts.” FEC.gov. Accessed May 24, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/?data_type=processed&committee_id=C00760330&two_year_transaction_period=2020. ^
  28. “Browse Receipts.” FEC.gov. Accessed May 24, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/?committee_id=C00748756&two_year_transaction_period=2020&data_type=processed. ^
  29. “Browse Independent Expenditures.” FEC.gov. Accessed May 24, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/independent-expenditures/?committee_id=C00760330&two_year_transaction_period=2020&cycle=2020&data_type=processed&is_notice=true. ^
  30. “Browse Independent Expenditures.” FEC.gov. Accessed May 24, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/independent-expenditures/?committee_id=C00748756&two_year_transaction_period=2020&cycle=2020&data_type=processed&is_notice=true. ^
  31. Baum, Laura. “Ad Volumes in Congressional Races Smash Records.” Wesleyan Media Project, August 13, 2020. https://mediaproject.wesleyan.edu/releases-081320/. ^
  32. Baum, Laura. “Ad Volumes in Congressional Races Smash Records.” Wesleyan Media Project, August 13, 2020. https://mediaproject.wesleyan.edu/releases-081320/. ^
  33. Bland, Scott. “Liberal Dark-Money Behemoth Raised Nearly $140M Last Year.” POLITICO. POLITICO, November 20, 2020. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/20/liberal-dark-money-fundraising-438667. ^
  34. “Sixteen Thirty Fund Outside Spending.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed May 24, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/detail.php?cycle=2020&cmte=Sixteen%2BThirty%2BFund. ^
  35. “Browse Individual Contributions.” FEC.gov. Accessed May 24, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=sixteen%2Bthirty%2Bfund&two_year_transaction_period=2020. ^
  36. Maguire, Robert. 2017. “In The Service Of Social Welfare, Democratic Operatives Get IRS Seal Of Approval”. Opensecrets News. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2017/04/service-social-welfare-democratic-operatives-get-irs-seal-approval/. ^
  37.  “Majority Forward”. 2019. Tides. Accessed March 4. https://www.tides.org/project/majority-forward/. ^
  38. Montellaro, Zach. “A Look behind the Dark Money Curtain.” POLITICO. September 20, 2018. Accessed June 03, 2019. https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-score/2018/09/20/a-look-behind-the-dark-money-curtain-345762. ^
  39. Montellaro, Zach. “A Look behind the Dark Money Curtain.” POLITICO. September 20, 2018. Accessed June 03, 2019. https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-score/2018/09/20/a-look-behind-the-dark-money-curtain-345762. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: May - April
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 2017

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 May Form 990 $34,177,016 $35,766,803 $2,005,498 $0 N $34,177,016 $0 $0 $90,000 PDF
    2016 May Form 990 $7,224,024 $3,628,739 $3,595,285 $0 N $7,224,024 $0 $0 $90,000 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Majority Forward

    700 13TH ST NW STE 600
    WASHINGTON, DC 20005-5998