President Biden and his advisers are raising a new outside group as the main super PAC to help re-elect him in 2024, making it the prime target for large sums of money from supportive billionaires and multi-millionaires.
The blessing of the group, Future Forward, is a changing of the guard in the important world of big money Democratic politics. Since the 2012 election, a different group, Priorities USA, has been the leading super PAC for Democratic presidential candidates.
“In 2020, when they really came out of nowhere and started putting advertising, the Biden campaign was impressed by the effectiveness of the ads and the overall rigorous testing that clearly went into the whole project,” Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to the White House. Mr. Biden, said of Future Forward. The group, she added, “has truly earned its place as the preeminent super PAC supporting the Biden-Harris agenda and 2024 efforts.”
On Friday, Mr. Biden’s campaign also announced combined fundraising of more than $72 million for the second quarter along with the Democratic National Committee and their joint fundraising committee, a figure far greater than what Donald J. Trump raised.
Federal candidates cannot legally coordinate campaign strategy with super PACs, but officials in both parties have signaled their preferred entities for a decade. Super PACs can accept donations of unlimited size, unlike federal candidates, who must abide by contribution limits.
Future Forward, which is led by Chauncey McLean, a former Barack Obama presidential campaign official, has kept a remarkably low profile for a super PAC that, along with an affiliated nonprofit arm, has raised nearly $400 million in the past five years.
The group supports sparse web. Mr McLean said Future Forward had never sent out a press release trumpeting its performance, which included producing more than 400 adverts.
“We keep a low profile because we’re just not the story, we’re just not important,” Mr. McLean said in a rare interview. “I just don’t see any reason to raise our heads. That will not change.”
The super PAC has spent more than $130 million on what are known as independent spending ads in the 2020 race between Mr. Biden and Donald J. Trump. It was also a major spender in the midterm elections in three crucial battlegrounds: Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Mr. McLean, who is based in Seattle, said the group planned to run “the largest presidential IE in history” and that his fundraising goal was to raise “as much as possible.”
Ms. Dunn served as a consultant for Future Forward after Mr. Biden was inaugurated, according to her personal financial disclosure form. But she said she saw a key role in 2024 for other super PACs, including American Bridge, the party’s clearinghouse for opposition research, which also runs TV ads.
Ms. Dunn and other White House officials attended American Bridge donor conferences this year. The elimination of Priorities USA has been telegraphed to donors for months, since before the group’s longtime leader, Guy Cecil, announced in March that he was leaving. Priorities this spring announced a goal to spend $74 million on digital advertising in 2024.
In a statement, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Biden’s 2020 campaign manager, said Future Forward was “critical” in 2020 and “will again play a key role” in 2024.
Unlike super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidates, which have built on-the-ground organizations in early presidential nominating states, Future Forward will have a narrow focus on “research and advocacy,” Mr. McLean said.
In a sign of the alliance between the group and the White House, Mr. Biden is sending Katie Petrelius, the finance director in his 2020 campaign and a recent White House aide, to Future Forward to help the group raise money.
There are no immediate plans for Mr. Biden to headline any fundraising events for the super PAC, but Ms. Dunn said such gatherings could happen in the future.
Mr. Biden, like many Democrats in the party’s crowded 2020 presidential primary, initially resisted seeking the support of a super PAC but backed off in the fall of 2019, when his campaign was short on cash and needed more presence on the airwaves. (“To speak to the middle class, we have to reject the super-PAC system,” Mr. Biden had said that April.)
Both super PACs and nonprofit groups can accept unlimited donations, but only super PACs must disclose the names of their contributors. Future Forward’s biggest contributor has been Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, who has given more than $50 million to the group since 2020.
The group also received millions of dollars from Stephen F. Mandel Jr., a Connecticut hedge fund manager; Karla Jurvetson, California philanthropist; Eric Schmidt, the former Google executive; and Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced cryptocurrency exchange founder who gave $5 million in October 2020.
Mr McLean said Future Forward had “returned any money associated with” Mr Bankman-Fried. The group said it also received $1.65 million from Mr. Bankman-Fried in its nonprofit arm.