Corporate Dems’ Rapidly Growing ‘Dark Money’ Arm

Tax documents reveal the group Center Forward received a record $18.8 million in 2021 and spent big to back conservative Democrats who bucked their party on drug pricing reforms.

Corporate Dems’ Rapidly Growing ‘Dark Money’ Arm
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) walk to a Democratic caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on October 01, 2021.

A corporate lobbyist-directed “dark money” group closely affiliated to the Blue Dog Coalition of conservative Democrats saw its revenue nearly double in 2021 from the prior year, according to tax documents reviewed by Sludge.

The Washington D.C.-based Center Forward, formerly known as the Blue Dog Research Forum, serves as an outside support group for the Blue Dogs, providing the conservative Democrats with policy suggestions, polling, campaign ads, and more. In 2021, it had record high revenue of more than $18.8 million, according to its tax return. The amount marked a sharp increase from the group’s 2020 total revenue of $10.6 million and its 2019 total revenue of $5 million.  

As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, Center Forward does not publicly disclose its funding sources, but tax documents show that since 2016 it has received at least $6.2 million from drug industry trade association the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).