“DARK MONEY”

Could America’s democracy be at risk? The shocking truth behind “dark money,” elections and you.

Aired on July 13, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METRO FOCUS.'

MONEY, JUDGES AND POLITICIANS.

FOR ME, IT'S A POTENTIAL POWDER KEG, ONE THAT'S PROBLEMATIC SINCE THE ACCEPT PRESUME COURT RULING IN THE CITIZEN'S UNITED CASE.

A NEW DOCUMENTARY CALLED 'DARK MONEY' LOOKS AT UNTRACEABLE MONEY ON ELECTIONS AND OFFICIALS.

IT TAKES VIEWERS TO MONTANA.

LET'S TAKE A QUICK LOOK.

JOHN ADAMS HERE.

I COVERED THE LEGISLATURE FOR THE GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE.

A SOURCE OF MINE HAD COME ACROSS SOMETHING I MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN.

VOTERS IN YOUR DISTRICT HAD NEVER SEEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS.

NO, THIS WAS A WHOLE NEW POLITICAL ATTACK.

SEND OUT ALL THESE MAILINGS.

THEY DON'T CARE IF THEY LIE.

NOBODY KNOWS WHO THEY ARE.

WE CALL THEM DARK MONEY GROUPS.

THEY SEND OUT THOSE CARDS ATTACKING THE OPPONENT.

WHEN THAT CANDIDATE GETS ELECTED, THEY SUPPORT THE AGENDA.

I CAN'T PICK UP THE PHONE AND SAY HEY, WHAT'S YOUR INTEREST IN CANDIDATE X BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW WHO THEY ARE.

JOINING US WITH MORE DETAILS ON DARK MONEY, OUR DIRECTOR, PRODUCER WRITER KIMBERLY REID AND JOHN ADAMS, WELCOME TO BOTH OF YOU.

LET ME ASK YOU THIS, DARK MONEY.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

YOU KNOW, IT'S MONEY THAT GOES INTO AN ELECTION USUALLY AN ELECTION WE'RE TALKING ABOUT IN THIS SITUATION AND YOU JUST DON'T KNOW WHERE IT CAME FROM.

A LOT OF TIMES WITH THE DARK MONEY GROUP, IT'S TECHNICALLY UNDER IRS CODE AND 501 C 4 N NON-PROFIT.

YOU CAN USUALLY FIND OUT THE NAME OF THE GROUP BUT YOU DON'T HAVE ANY IDEA WHO IS FUNDING THE GROUP.

WHO IS WRITING THE CHECK.

RIGHT.

LET'S COME BACK TO THE FILM ITSELF.

YOU'RE AN ACCOMPLISHED FILM MAKER AND I'M CURIOUS HOW THEY FIND THEIR NEXT PROJECT.

BECAUSE THIS TOOK SIX YEARS START TO FINISH?

YEAH.

WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THIS THAT MADE YOU SAY THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO?

THERE WAS A SEED OF AN IDEA IN 2010 WHEN I HEARD ABOUT THE CITIZENS UNITED DECISION FROM THE SUPREME COURT.

I HAD A LOT OF QUESTIONS HOW COULD WE END UP IN THIS SPOT WHERE THE U.S. SUPREME COURT IS SAYING MONEY IS SPEECH AND CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE, THEREFORE YOU CAN'T CONSTRAIN THE SPEECH OF A CORPORATION.

I MEAN, I GUESS IF YOU LOOK AT THE JURISPRUDENCE, YOU CAN FIGURE OUT HOW THINGS ENDED UP IN THIS PLACE BUT IT DIDN'T MAKE SENSE ONCE YOU TAKE A STEP BACK AND USED YOUR GUT.

DOES THIS MAKE SENSE.

YOU CAN SEE POLITICAL POWER AND DEMOCRACY.

IN 2012 I SAW MY HOME STATE OF MONTANA HAD A CASE GOING TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT AND CHALLENGING CITIZENS UNITED.

WE SEE A GOOD DEAL OF YOUR INVOLVEMENT HERE AS AN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER.

WHY DID YOU START FOCUSSING ON DARK MONEY IN THE STATE OF MONTANA?

IT STARTED SHOWING UP IN ELECTIONS IN 2008 AND WE DIDN'T REALLY KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON AT THE TIME.

THERE IS A SCENE IN THE MOVIE WHERE I TELL ONE OF THE REPUBLICAN HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES WHO LOST HIS PRIMARY IN LARGE PART BECAUSE OF A DARK MONEY CAMPAIGN WAGED AGAINST HIM.

I TOLD HIM THAT'S POLITICS, MAN.

BECAUSE I DIDN'T REALLY FULLY UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS GOING ON.

I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THAT THESE GROUPS THAT WERE SPENDING THIS MONEY TO ATTACK HIM WERE UNACCOUNTABLE.

WE DIDN'T KNOW -- IT WASN'T UNTIL LATER THAT I STARTED SEEING THERE WERE THESE CONNECTIONS THAT THESE GROUPS WERE NOT JUST GETTING INVOLVED IN THAT CAMPAIGN BUT GETTING INVOLVED IN MANY CAMPAIGNS AND WHEN I STARTED SAYING WELL WHO IS BEHIND THESE GROUPS?

YOU COULDN'T FIND OUT BECAUSE THE DOW NARCOTICS OR WHATEVER WAS FUNDING THEM WAS ANONYMOUSI W WAS MORE CURIOUS.

MONTANA, THAT'S INTERESTING BUT HOW DOES IT IMPACT ME?

ONE OF THE CHARACTERS, THE FOLKS IN YOUR FILM IS TAKING ABOUT CAMPAIGN FINANCES AND HER QUOTE IS CAMPAIGN FINANCING ESSENTIALLY DRIVES IN AND IS BEHIND ALL POLICY.

IT'S THE GATEWAY ISSUE.

ANY POLITICAL ISSUE DOESN'T GOING TO GET SORTED OUT UNTIL YOU FIGURE OUT WHO ARE THE INFLUENCES BEHIND IT AND, YOU KNOW, IF WE HAVE A DEBATE IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE ABOUT HOW BIG GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE, HOW SMALL IT SHOULD BE, SHOULD WE FUND THIS OR THAT OR EDUCATION AND ALL THESE HEALTH CARE, ALL THESE IMPORTANT ISSUES THAT WE'RE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE SIZE OF THESE GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS, HAVING THAT DEBATE IN PUBLIC IS JUST HOW DEMOCRACY WAS DESIGNED AND HOW IT SHOULD WORK AND WHEN YOU HAVE ONE SIDE OF THAT DEBATE COMING FROM A, YOU KNOW, A CORPORATION OR A UNION OR AN INDIVIDUAL JUST ONE PERSON.

OR FOR AN AGENT.

EVEN HAVE TO BE --

RIGHT.

IT JUST DISTORTS THE DEMOCRATIC DEBATE.

AS YOU KNOW, GOOD STORY TELLING FOCUSES ON PEOPLE AND ON THE STORIES AND BACKGROUND AND THE FOCUS, ONE OF THE BIG FOCUSES IS THE STATE OF MONTANA AND MONTANA, JOHN, TALK ABOUT THIS.

HAS ITS OWN REALLY INTERESTING HISTORY IN TERMS OF CORPORATE MONEY.

MONTANA IS HOME -- IT'S A NATURAL RESOURCE STATE AND HOME TO SOME OF THE RICHEST NATURAL RESOURCES IN THE COUNTRY INCLUDING COPPER.

BUICK, MONTANA IS THE RICHEST HILL ON EARTH AND A COPPER BEARING, WILLIAM CLARK WAS ONE OF THE RICHEST PEOPLE ON EARTH AT THE TIME AND LITERALLY BOUGHT HIMSELF MONTANA'S FIRST SENATE SEAT BACK BEFORE THE SENATE WAS ELECTED BY POPULAR VOTE, THEY WERE SELECTED BY THE LEGISLATURE AND WILLIAM CLARK GAVE BAGS FULL OF CASH.

IN MONTANA, THE CITIZENS SAID THAT'S NOT HOW WE WANT THINGS TO HAPPEN SO THEY PASSED THE PRACTICES ACT AND THE PRACTICES ACT BASICALLY ELIMINATED CORPORATE SPENDING AND ELECTIONS IN MONTANA AND THAT WAS TRUE FOR 100 YEARS BEFORE CITIZENS UNITED.

AND AS WE SAID, MONTANA TOOK THEIR OWN SHOT AFTER CITIZENS UNITED AND COVER THAT.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU HERE AND KIMBERLY, LET ME ASK YOU THIS AS A FILM MAKER AND I SAY THIS OFTEN TO FILM MAKERS, YOU'RE TAKING US ON A JOURNEY BUT YOU'RE ON THAT JOURNEY, TOO, AND OFTEN TIMES YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE IT'S GOING TO TAKE YOU AS YOU PUT IT TOGETHER.

AS YOU LOOK BACK NOW AND WHAT'S BEEN CREATED HERE, WAS THERE ANYTHING THAT SURPRISED YOU?

WHAT I USUALLY TRY TO DO IS HOLD ON TO THOSE SURPRISES BECAUSE SOMETIMES THOSE TWISTS AND TURNS ARE FRUSTRATING AS A FILM MAKE YOU ARE YOU WANT THIS TO HAPPEN AND IT DOESN'T HAPPEN BUT IF YOU CAN HOLD ON TO THOSE AND PUT THEM BACK INTO THE FILM, THEY BECOME NATURAL ORGANIC TWISTS AND TURNS THAT WE GO THROUGH IN EVERYDAY LIFE.

THAT'S ONE THING I WOULD SAY AND I THINK THE BIGGEST TWIST PROBABLY HAS TO DO WITH JOHN.

JOHN IS THE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER WHO IS AT THE CENTER OF THE STORY DIGGING THROUGH THESE THINGS AND UNCOVERING A A MISSI AND UNCOVERING THE NOVEL IS HOW THE FILM PLAYS, I THINK.

IT REALLY DOES.

IN THE MIDDLE OF IT, JOHN BASICALLY BECOMES A LITTLE SPOILER ALERT HERE.

HE BECOMES EMBLEM OF WHAT NEWSPAPER IS GOING THROUGH AND RESIZING, I WOULD SAY HE'S FORCED TO KIND OF FIGURE OUT WHICH WAY HE'S GOING TO GO WITH THIS JOURNALISM CAREER AND THAT TWIST IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FILM I THINK MAKES THE MOVIE NOT JUST ABOUT CAMPAIGN FINANCE BUT ALSO ABOUT JOURNALISM, THE IMPORTANCE OF JOURNALISM AND HOW CRUCIAL IT IS TO HAVE THE STRONG WATCHDOG PRESS SO YOU CAN KEEP AN EYE ON MONEY AND POLITICS.

NO MATTER WHAT END OF A POLITICAL SPECTRUM YOU MIGHT FIND YOURSELF ON, THIS IS A FASCINATING FILM AND REVEALING AND ILLUMINATING FILM, VERY WELL DONE.

CONGRATULATIONS HERE FOR PUTTING IT TOGETHER FOR BOTH OF YOU AND THANKS FOR SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US.

THANK YOU.

WISH YOU WELL.

> REMINDER FOR YOU TO LEARN MORE ABOUT 'DARK MONEY' FIND OUT HOW TO WATCH THIS IMPORTANT DOCUMENTARY.

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