Majority Forward, a leftist advocacy and dark money group associated with the Senate Majority PAC and Sen. Chuck Schumer, is facing criticism for potentially breaking IRS expenditure rules and attempting to suppress GOP voter turnout.
Ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has questioned the legality of the organization’s dark money donations, its failures to disclose political expenditures, and its use of false information in 2018 attack ads aimed at Republicans.
Newly released tax records show that in the 2018 election cycle, Majority Forward raised $2.7 million for the nonprofit Coalition for a Safe and Secure America (CSSA). CSSA used the money, which made up the majority of the $4 million it raised, to create false attack ads against Republican senators specifically intended to suppress turnout.
CSAA used both digital marketing and direct mail to send libelous ads against several candidates, including Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Braun of Indiana, and then-Senate candidate Matt Rosendale, alleging that Hawley “sides with Washington liberals against gun owners,” while Braun was branded as “tax hike Mike.” Rosendale, who lost his race that year, faced accusations in the ads that he “supports drone monitoring.”
While these seem to be primary-style attacks coming from the right, they were released just weeks before the 2018 midterm general election, with the purpose of keeping Republican voters from supporting their candidate. While Majority Forward defines itself as “created to support voter registration and voter turnout efforts,” its actions demonstrate otherwise.
CREW took its concerns to the IRS in mid-May, describing the false attack ads and questioning whether the organization illegally hid its political activities with Majority Forward from the IRS.
This is not the first ethical concern the organization has faced. In 2017, Center for Responsive Politics explored how the group, ostensibly a nonprofit wing of the Senate Majority PAC, which is intended to push more for issues than specific candidates, attained 501(c)(4) status from the IRS despite donating tens of millions to specific candidates.
Due to its tax exemption as a 501(c)(4), Majority Forward is not required to disclose its donors, yet these groups face limits to their political spending, which were ignored.
Schumer is very closely tied to the Senate Majority PAC, even so far as picking a close confidante and ally as the PAC’s president in 2017. Majority Forward is intrinsically linked with the PAC, even sharing substantial personnel, office space, and expenses.