BRUNSWICK — “Dark Money” author Jane Mayer will be interviewed by Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram at Bowdoin College’s Pickard Theater on Saturday, where she will also accept the Frances Perkins Center’s 2017 Intelligence and Courage Award.

The event begins at 4 p.m.

Mayer’s 2016 book, “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right,” is a detailed examination of political “dark money” in the ultra-right conservative movement. Dark money donations are generally made to a non-profit organization, which can then spend it to influence an election, without ever disclosing donor identities.

The New York Review of Books described “Dark Money” as “absolutely necessary reading for anyone who wants to make sense of our politics,” and Esquire Magazine called Mayer “quite simply one of the very few, utterly invaluable journalists this country has.”

The Koch Brothers are perhaps the most well-known donors covered in the book. Mayer also reports on activist-donors Richard Mellon Scaife and John M. Olin, who founded the influential American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC; and the Coors (beer) and DeVos families—Amway founder Richard DeVos Sr. is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s father-in-law.

According to, the 2012 election cycle saw just over $342,000 spent by “non-disclosing groups” that are outside of political parties, while that figure skyrocketed to more than $8 million in the 2016 cycle.

Mayer, a long-time staff writer at the New Yorker and author of several books, has also written on NSA surveillance, torture, whistle blowing, and money in politics on both sides of the aisle.

The Intelligence and Courage Award comes from a speech Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve in a U.S. Cabinet post as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, gave in 1929 as New York State Industrial Commissioner.

“I promise to use what brains I have to meet problems with intelligence and courage. I promise that I will be candid about what I know. I promise to all of you who have the right to know, the whole truth so far as I can speak it,” she pledged.

The Frances Perkins Center recognizes someone each year for their courage and intelligence in pursuit of social justice and economic security, said Michael Chaney, executive director of the center. “Jane Mayer’s long career has been an incredible example of a steady investigative journalist who calls attention to what is really going on with money in our American political system. We are drawn to her because of her tenacity in getting the facts for a particular situation or story.”

He added, “Mayer has been relentless as a journalist. This book really calls attention to how the billionaire class gradually and systematically organized the political process so that it best suits their own needs. That’s what we are interested in at the center; we strongly feel that everyone who participates in American society should have an equal chance at success. Mayer’s work shows how the wealthy class has inappropriately been influencing the American political process.”

Columnist Bill Nemitz, who will interview Mayer at the event, received the center’s 2015 Intelligence & Courage Award. Past honorees include “the dean of New Deal history,” William E. Leuchtenburg; former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank; Ai-jen Poo, co-founder of Domestic Workers United; and family-friendly workplace advocate Ellen Bravo.

A book signing will follow the interview.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Frances Perkins Center is headquartered in downtown Damariscotta. It offers an interpretive exhibit on the life and achievements of Frances Perkins, an advisor to FDR and a key architect of New Deal programs such as Social Security and unemployment insurance. This event is also sponsored by the Bowdoin Department of Government and Legal Studies, and the John C. Donovan Lecture Fund.

The event is free, though tickets are required. Tickets may be obtained in person at Bowdoin’s Smith Union Information Desk, by calling the Frances Perkins Center at 563-3374, or by emailing [email protected].