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.”
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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.
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.