Parents' Guide to

Dark Money

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Excellent political docu has infrequent profanity.

Movie NR 2018 99 minutes
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This excellent documentary shows the ramifications of the Supreme Court's highly controversial "Citizens United" decision in 2010. Using Montana as both a unique situation and a microcosm for what many states are now facing, the documentary shows the trickery, deception, and mystery behind those seeking to unduly influence elections. With "dark money," it's difficult to determine where the money is coming from, to even know if it's money from foreign powers. While the documentary gives space to those who see unlimited campaign contributions from the Koch Brothers and their ilk as a matter of free speech and liberty, Dark Money also shows that this is a cause for concern among both Democrats and Republicans alike.

The biggest issue with Dark Money is the timing of the release. It was filmed over the past several years and released in the summer before the 2018 election, an election that seemed to suggest more solutions to the problem of dark money than what's discussed during the documentary. For instance, many candidates campaigned and won (or were at least very competitive) and managed to raise millions without accepting a dime of special interest money. Individual contributions skyrocketed. While not necessarily the answer, it does reveal that people are aware of the problem, and willing to reach into their pocketbooks to effect change on their own terms rather than simply allowing billionaires to enact agendas. Regardless, Dark Money does restore some faith that some public officials aren't content with the skewed system, and provides a reminder of the power of muckraking investigative journalism to bring the deliberately-hidden machinations of power into the light.

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