Update: The Federal Election Commission voted this morning 5-1 to allow Stephen Colbert to launch his “SuperPac.”The FEC awarded Colbert a “media exemption” to use his television show to promote the group, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money as long as it does not endorse a coordinate with any campaign or political party.
But the commission did not allow advertisements for the SuperPac to run outside of the show — which the commission said would have to be reported as an in-kind donation.
According to a tweet from POLITICO’s Ken Vogel, Colbert said after the ruling was announced that serious media personalities owe him for paving the way for them to plug political groups on the air.
Original: The Federal Election Commission is quickly becoming Stephen Colbert’s straight man, with the commission set to rule on the comedian’s plan to launch a SuperPAC from the set of his Comedy Central TV show.
What started out as satire of Tim Pawlenty’s Michael Bay-esque “Courage to Stand” ad has turned into a biting critique of the nation’s campaign finance laws with the potential to tear down the boundaries between entertainment and politics on TV.
The commission released three draft decisions last week that, if adopted, would permit Colbert to create a SuperPAC and use the resources of his eponymous show “The Colbert Report” and those of its parent company Viacom to promote the organisation during the program under the FEC’s so-called “media exemption.”
The FEC drafts conflict over just how far that exemption goes, and whether Viacom would have to disclose work its employees did for the SuperPAC that wasn’t also explicitly for the “Colbert Report.”
Experts say the ruling could open the door for non-satirical uses of cable stations to promote their political agendas.
“I think Colbert is trying to dramatize problems in the campaign finance world in the way that he dramatizes other things,” Fred Wertheimer, a longtime campaign finance reform advocate, told POLITICO.. “But nevertheless, the proposals here would potentially open gaping disclosure loopholes in the campaign finance laws.”
SuperPACs were created last year in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case Citizens United v. FEC, which ruled that corporate speech (and campaign donations) are protected by the first amendment. The groups can accept unlimited contributions from corporations.
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