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Stephen Colbert’s Parody PAC Could Have Real Impact

Comedian Stephen Colbert is satirizing the impact of money in politics by applying to form his very own Super PAC. The comedian submitted a real application and testified before the Federal Elections Commission. Unfortunately, some campaign finance reform activists worry that the joke will get out of hand. If regulators actually approved Colbert’s PAC, it could create even bigger loopholes in campaign finance law:

If Colbert gets his way before the FEC, it could blur the lines between political money and media to an unprecedented extent.

For instance, it might enable Fox News pundit-politicians such as Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee to use the network’s resources to boost their own political committees, assert Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center in their FEC filing. It concludes: “Mr. Colbert’s ultimate goals here may be comedic, but the commission should not play the straight man at the expense of the law.” [Politico]

Colbert created the PAC to poke fun at GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty. Colbert started promoting the PAC on his Comedy Central show, which made parent company Viacom very nervous because Colbert was using corporate resources to promote the PAC. Colbert’s lawyer applied to the FEC for a media exemption for the Colbert Report to use Viacom resource. If Colbert succeeds in redefining the media exemption, the consequences could be a boon for the very forces he was trying to make fun of. 

Update: The FEC approved Colbert’s PAC.

[Photo credit: Mike Browne, Creative Commons.]


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