The Colbert Super PAC has been on the verge of changing politics for months. But Stephen Colbert’s political action committee still needed to meet with approval from the FEC, since there are some obvious concerns. First of all, Comedy Central’s second biggest fake news pundit is skirting campaign finance laws with his proposed organization. In addition, having a comedian raise unlimited campaign funds may reduce the whole process to a big joke.
But the FEC was willing to make that risk, the agency giving Colbert permission Thursday to form his Super PAC. Yet if that should bring embarrassment or ridicule to the process, it would be just another consequence of the Citizens United controversy.
Some who criticize Colbert’s PAC were probably in favor of the “Citizens United” Supreme Court case that gave unlimited speech to corporations and the wealthy. Critics argued that it would give the rich even more power to decide elections and further turn the political process against average citizens.
But although this strikes at the heart of modern-day democracy and elections, it has also become a source for comedy. Although few can work out the intricacies of campaign finance, especially in a post-Citizens United world, the likes of Colbert can still tear it apart.
For months, The Colbert Report host has wanted to form his own political action committee using the loopholes from the Citizens United ruling and a “press exemption” to keep parent company Viacom out of legal trouble. It all paid off Thursday, as his testimony won over the usually deadlocked six-member FEC panel.
This isn’t Colbert’s first brush with Washington after his scathing routine at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner, and his testimony at a House Judiciary hearing on immigration in September 2010. But this visit had a greater impact, since his efforts are actually impacting the laws in Washington.
Those who have argued against Citizens United can hold the Colbert Super PAC up as a shining example. Not only does its existence show the consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision but Colbert’s use of it can shine a crucial light on the issue during the 2012 election.
But Colbert’s efforts could do more harm than good to the cause, according to groups like the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21. Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, told the Associated Press that a favorable ruling could open more “major loopholes” to help companies funnel “secret money to influence elections.”
The process is already so screwed up, cryptic and littered with dirty money that even the likes of Colbert can muck it up. That is the clear punch line, but the aftermath may not be a laughing matter in the next election year and beyond. Yet it will certainly give The Colbert Report a lot of new material for a while.
Business Insider- “FEC Allows Formation Of Colbert’s Super PAC”
Associated Press- “Colbert looks for answers on campaign finance”