Colbert laughing all the way to the PAC
June 30th, 2011
04:30 PM ET
3 years ago

Colbert laughing all the way to the PAC

Washington (CNN) – It was no joke Thursday at the Federal Election Committee hearing as Comedian Stephen Colbert gained approval to start his "superPAC" by a 5-1 "media exemption vote."

But in the crowd outside the FEC's headquarters following the vote it was clear the host of "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central had a straight-faced delivery and this matter of election fundraising regulation had some laughing – and throwing money.

"Moments ago the Federal Election Committee made their ruling," Colbert said to cheers, "And ladies and gentlemen I'm sorry to say, we won!"

The FEC ruling specified that all Colbert superPAC activity would need to be reported and any ads run on Colbert's television program can be funded by Viacom –who owns Comedy Central– without reporting. But if shown on other shows or networks, all Viacom-funded Colbert ads must disclose all financial involvement.

In some ways, while the ruling allows Colbert to found his PAC, raise money and produce and buy television time for political advertisements-it raises a host of questions for what implications there will be for other PACs.

Former FEC Chairman Robert Lenhard said the ruling "means people can use their network's resources to fund their own PAC ads without needing to report it on their network, on their show."

And what does it mean for Colbert himself?

"I think he's going to have fun," Lenhard said, "But until he gets at least a million dollars he's not going to run many ads outside of his show."

The satirist announced plans months ago to form his superPAC, which makes light of Citizens United, the conservative political advocacy group that won a landmark Supreme Court ruling rolling back campaign finance regulation.

"Sixty days ago today on this very spot a young man petitioned the FEC for permission to form a superPAC to raise unlimited monies and used the monies to determine the winner of the 2012 elections," Colbert said, "It was me."

"Thank you for standing with me for freedom," he said, "It has been said freedom isn't free, today we have placed a sizeable down payment, today we have put liberty on layaway."

Inside the earlier meeting, FEC Commissioner Donald McGahn said his concern was not mentioning the PAC itself on "The Colbert Report" show, but was about advertising on other shows and networks and the administration of the PAC itself.

"I feel like I'm in a position to decide what's part of Colbert Report and what's not for purposes of FEC disclosure," McGahn said.

Trevor Potter, Stephen Colbert's lawyer answered, "My client here is Mr. Colbert and the proposed Colbert superPAC, and thus not Viacom, the owner of the media entity."

Another question was the content of the ads themselves, in which Colbert, in his only statement from the witness table, answered, "We don't know what we're going to do with the ads, where we would place them, because we don't have the PAC yet."

Adding to that, Potter said Colbert "did intend some of the advertising to include, express advocacy, mention candidates."

Outside, in a sea of supporters, Colbert wasted no time soliciting donations and said he'd start airing ads as soon as he gets enough money.

"I don't know about you but I do not accept limits on my free speech, I don't know about you but I do not accept the status quo. But I do accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express," he said.

At the conclusion of his speech, Colbert's staff emerged with iPads equipped with credit card swipers.

Colbert himself started personally accepting donations, chatting with fans and collecting small contributions for 15 minutes.

As he departed, Colbert was showered by dollar bills. When asked what corporate America has to done to the election process, Colbert said, "Made it free-er! Money equals speech."


Filed under: FEC • Stephen Colbert
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. TimeForLogic

    Sometimes Colbert's humor has so many ways to interpret, It took years for some of my republican friends to realize Colbert wasn't actually on their side.

    June 30, 2011 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  2. Kevin

    I love these comments, because they prove a point. The dim-bulb spouting "libtard" and referring to the destruction of America, and the other commenters that state Colbert is a Conservative. It simply proves they either, can't or don't read, AND, they can't tell the difference between reality or satire, entertainment or politics, or truth or lies. That explains Faux news' following better than anything else I've ever seen.

    June 30, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  3. Eric of Reseda

    The thing is, I'd vote for this guy if HE ran. And I'll throw my support behind his endorsemenets, too...

    June 30, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  4. T3chsupport

    Steward/Colbert 2016!

    June 30, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  5. billybob

    the man is a genius and he will undoubtedly use his superpac, much like he does his show, to extreme effect, to point out the ridiculousness of the system and the citizens united ruling......if anything this will help level the playing field a little and allow a response to the ads sure to come that will reach a whole new level of awesome.....between superpacs and the republican primaries, this is going to be the greatest election ever.....

    June 30, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  6. Loubies

    He's brilliant!

    June 30, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  7. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    If my brain weren't so tiny, I'd have more important things to add to this discussion. Libtard, libtard, libtard! Colbert, libtardy!

    June 30, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  8. Another South Carolinian

    I would write a comment, but I've got to go program my DVR. I may want to watch this many many times.

    June 30, 2011 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  9. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    first of all I just crack up when people post here and use the word "victim" in their handle. If you were a true "victim" you wouldn't have time nor the means to sit at a computer posting here to begin with.
    and @ MC.....
    too bad you didn't get the joke.....you mean you watch the show and never knew he was actually making fun of the conservatives? And it's always the right that wants to cut funds for education. Go figure.

    June 30, 2011 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  10. Stephen

    Satire is beautiful.

    June 30, 2011 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  11. LouAz

    Think he will get to run any ads on Faux Noise, or Beck's radio show or His Highness Rush Limburger's radio show ?

    June 30, 2011 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  12. StephenColbertForPresident

    Don't let the corporate elite steal our souls!!!!

    June 30, 2011 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  13. bam

    now maybe he can start trying to redistrict states so reps get less population aka undo the changes they do to better themselves

    June 30, 2011 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  14. notogop

    mc is no doubt a republican, since he/she doesn't have the intelligence to grasp the meaning of Colbert's humor and satirical sarcasm. Probably relies on Faux "News", i.e., the Republican Forum, to keep him informed on all the major political topics.

    June 30, 2011 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
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