Follow The Money

Stephen Colbert Gets His Super Pac, With Conditions

Comedian Stephen Colbert with his attorney, Trevor Potter, turns in a document at a Federal Election Commission hearing, June 30, 2011. i i

hide captionComedian Stephen Colbert with his attorney, Trevor Potter, turns in a document at a Federal Election Commission hearing, June 30, 2011.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Comedian Stephen Colbert with his attorney, Trevor Potter, turns in a document at a Federal Election Commission hearing, June 30, 2011.

Comedian Stephen Colbert with his attorney, Trevor Potter, turns in a document at a Federal Election Commission hearing, June 30, 2011.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Stephen Colbert's open-ended comedic examination of nation's bizarrely complex campaign finance system got a boost Thursday from the Federal Election Commission which approved his request to use his Comedy Central show on behalf of his political action committee.

Draft versions of the FEC's approval are on its web site. (Based on an Associated Press story, the first draft which contains conditions was approved.)

The bottom line is that the comedian can use his Colbert Report show as a vehicle to promote his super PAC, which will be able to raise unlimited amounts of money (that's what makes it so super.)

Colbert won't need to disclose his show's coverage of the committee for the FEC, for instance. Ads created by his comic writers that are paid for by the PAC and shown on his show wouldn't have to be disclosed either.

But certain actions by Viacom, Comedy Central's parent company, would need to be disclosed as in-kind contributions.

If Viacom produces ads that its distributes beyond the Colbert Show, for example, those would need to be reported as in-kind contributions.

Colbert has done something remarkable. By turning an element of the nation's campaign finance system into a running joke, he's made many people pay attention to it for the first time.

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