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Review: Dark Money
by Karen Pecota

A Kimberly Reed Film.

Film director Kimberly Reed takes matters into her own hands when she learns of a 'clear and present danger' to threaten and erode our American democracy. In collaboration with producer Katy Chevigny, the two filmmakers grab their cameras and head to Montana to shadow a local investigative journalist, John Adams, working to expose the truth of how American elections are bought and sold.

In 2010, Reed learned about the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision broadcasting that 'corporations are people' and 'money is speech'. A confusing concept. But, once understood, the ideology is a red-flag for all Americans. Whenever money is spent in a political election with the purpose of influencing the decision of a voter and the source of the money is not disclosed, it is dark money. The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that dramatically reshaped the business of politics in its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. A decision allowing donation sources and sums to remain in secret. 

Reed was alarmed and began to research. She found that 80% of Americans were against the decision. Her findings revealed that if not watchful our country's political power could slowly shift to fewer and fewer people with lots and lots of money. A direction contrary to the U.S. virtues of democracy.

The idea for Reed's documentary Dark Money was born after she heard that her home state of Montana would be the only state to fight back against Citizens United in the U.S. Supreme Court. She said, "I knew I could tell a compelling story of campaign finance through the eyes of real people." Montanans know first-hand how big money corrupts. Who better to fight for justice against Citizens United? Reed adds, "The only way to really understand how the dark money shell game works is to follow the nonprofit corporations over multiple election cycles." To this day, the funds known as 'dark money' are being secretly paid out to smear candidates running for public office. The investigative professionals try to figure out who is paying for the deception but it remains a mystery. 

Reed's gripping narrative is told by real people. Montana was not only the first and hardest hit with dark money but also the state that fought back because 'real-people' were outraged. Reed says her film Dark Money puts a human face to the fight.

Reed continues, "Our film makes a concerted effort to share stories from both sides of the aisle." Adding, "It was important to me to remind folks that campaign spending is not just a liberal or conservative issue. It affects all Americans, not just Montanans, regardless of ideology."

Reed feels that campaign spending is the most fundamental political problem facing our democracy. She notes, ...."that the spending is getting more sophisticated, more insidious and harder to track." Reed hopes that their film will be a catalyst for solve the problems, educate viewers and inspire American citizens to 'follow the money' in order to fight for campaign finance reform, a concept Americans say they want."

Resource websites: and (these will give visual charts of The Tope 10 Dark Money Spenders (2008 - 2014)