×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

PopPolitics: ‘Dark Money’ Shows the Personal Cost of Out-of-Control Cash in Campaigns (Listen)

WASHINGTON — Kimberly Reed’s new project “Dark Money” pulls off what so many campaign reformers have trouble doing: She captures the personal impact of the flood of cash that has flowed into elections following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

So much focus on money in politics is on Senate and House races; “Dark Money,” which opens this weekend, looks at state lawmakers in Montana who found themselves driven from office by a flood of pre-election day attack ads. The sources were opaque groups, financed by out-of-state corporate money, often with the message that the incumbents are too moderate.

“The characters I ran into were really heroic, everyday characters, and most of them were Republicans who were being attacked by their own party, by the far right-wing of their own party,” Reed said.

What makes “Dark Money” work is that it traces what has happened in the state over several election cycles, as she followed political figures and journalists over the course of five years. She also digs into the state’s tradition of clean politics, which at times is threatened by corporate interests.

“As a native Montanan, I know how to talk to these people. I knew how to get the access that I needed, and also because of that, I had a sense that you really needed to stick to this tale,” she said. “Part of the problem with dark money groups is that they pop up for just one election and then disappear. And then the same group will reconvene as something else, then pop up again and try to move another election.”

In Washington, President Trump promised to “drain the swamp,” but Reed has a succinct answer to whether that is happening in any way.

“Ah, no. I am certainly not seeing that,” she says.

Listen below:

Also: Tim Naftali of New York University talks about the Trump-Putin summit. “President Trump did nothing this week to clarify the issue. In fact, I believe he didn’t want to. I believe he has never changed his mind about the utility of whatever Russia did in 2016.”

Politico’s Ben Schreckinger talks about how Sacha Baron Cohen fooled Joe Walsh, Sarah Palin and others.

Gigi Sohn, distinguished fellow at Georgetown University, explains what she sees happening with media mergers and government scrutiny.

The New York Post’s Nikki Schwab and “The Open Mind” host Alexander Heffner talk about solidarity in the White House press corps.

Listen here.

PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs from 2-3 p.m. ET-11 a.m.-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand. 

Popular on Variety

More Politics

  • President Donald Trump waves as he

    Trump Holds Fundraiser in Hollywood's Backyard

    President Trump paid a visit to Los Angeles on Tuesday, as part of a West Coast fundraising swing expected to raise $15 million. Trump is set to appear at a dinner at developer Geoffrey Palmer’s house in Beverly Hills, where tickets range from $1,000 to $100,000 for VIPs. Though set in Hollywood’s backyard, the event [...]

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Burning Image Debate Ad

    ABC Runs Debate Ad Showing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Burning Image

    ABC aired an ad during Thursday’s Democratic debate that depicted a burning image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and likened her politics to those that caused the Cambodian genocide. New Faces GOP funded the ad, which features Elizabeth Heng, a Republican who lost a bid for a Fresno-area congressional seat last year. Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter, [...]

  • Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris.

    ABC News' Democratic Debate Lacked Energy and Purpose

    At long last, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren were on the same stage. And the result was a long and fairly dull evening. After two Democratic Party debate stages in which the field of candidates had been bifurcated — splitting, in both cases, the perceived frontrunners from the establishment and insurgent [...]

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden responds

    Protesters Interrupt Joe Biden During Democratic Debate

    Protesters interrupted presidential candidate Joe Biden during Thursday’s democratic debate. The chants came nearly two and a half hours in as moderator George Stephanopoulos asked the former vice president about any professional setbacks he’s faced and how he recovered from them. “We’re going to clear the protesters,” Stephanopoulos said as the chants began. “We’re sorry.” [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren,

    Dems Debate in Houston: Moderates Push Back on Medicare for All

    The third Democratic debate on Thursday was billed as the first showdown between the top contenders: Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Biden did challenge the liberal senators on health care early in the debate, which was broadcast on ABC. He asked repeatedly how they would pay for their multi-trillion [...]

  • Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth WarrenSecond 2020

    How to Watch the Third Democratic Primary Debate

    The leading Democratic candidates will once again go head to head tonight in Houston, Tex. for the party’s third debate ahead of the primaries. The anticipated debate, which will include the 10 Democratic candidates currently leading in the polls, will kick off at 8 p.m. ET and will broadcast live on ABC and Univision. ABC [...]

  • Gen Z Climate Activism

    How Generation Z Is Embracing Bold Action in the Face of Climate Crisis

    Of all the dire forecasts she’s heard about the climate crisis, there is one that Arielle Martinez Cohen can’t get out of her mind. The report, from an Australian think tank, projected that if nothing is done, civilization could collapse by 2050. “I will be 49 in that year,” says the 17-year-old activist. “It makes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content