Stephen Colbert is assuring the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that the dollar bills he collected in exchange for handshakes outside of their building last month went to him and not the “super PAC” he’s hoping to form.
“Colbert Super PAC is not yet a legal entity and no individual is accepting contributions on its behalf. Funds collected by Mr. Colbert from the crowd outside the Commission after he filed his Advisory Opinion Request were not contributions to the PAC; they were $1 bills received by Mr. Colbert personally as payment for shaking his hand,” three lawyers working for Colbert wrote.
The FEC had some follow up questions about Colbert’s original request for a media exemption for his yet-to-be-formed political action committee, which would allow his show to fund the activities of “Colbert Super PAC” without it counting as an in-kind contribution.
Another question from the FEC: “Is the continued operation of Colbert Super PAC’s website and activities dependent on the show? If the show stopped covering Colbert Super PAC because it was thought to be stale or no longer funny, would Viacom cease providing support to it?”
Said Colbert’s team: “Colbert Super PAC could be operated by Mr. Colbert without reference to it on The Colbert Report. Mr. Colbert, however, does not foresee any circumstances under which the show would lose interest in something he is doing. Indeed, he expects that coverage of his offset activities through the vehicle of Colbert Super PAC will provide significant additional content for the show.”
Good government groups — including the Campaign Legal Center, which is headed by Colbert’s lawyer — want the FEC to reject Colbert’s request because it “would permit the corporate media employer of these individuals to make unlimited, undisclosed contributions to their PACs under the guise of the ‘press exemption’.”
“Although we recognize that Mr. Colbert submitted his advisory opinion in the spirit of political comedy, an opinion by the FEC permitting all that Mr. Colbert requests would have a sweeping and damaging impact on disclosure laws and the public’s right to know about campaign finance activities,” Paul S. Ryan, FEC Program Director at the Campaign Legal Center, said in a statement.