Thursday, June 30, 2011


Citizens uniting in the Colbert SuperPAC

by Larry Geller

Comedian Stephan Colbert has always been serious. His choice of communication medium has just been comedy. Both he and Jon Stewart use humor as a way to both report and comment on the news as well as on the condition of our politics, our country, and our world.

He made a very serious move this morning by gaining Federal Elections Commission approval for his shiny new SuperPAC, which is now open for business. After addressing the rally that formed outside of the FEC, he got started immediately—by offering to shake hands with all of his supporters—for one dollar a handshake.

The Atlantic made a good try at explaining how the new SuperPAC will operate, including describing Colbert’s choice to seek FEC approval rather than go the simpler route of just registering a 527 organization. Colbert took the high road because the FEC imposes transparency obligations he could have avoided, had he chosen to simply register as a 527 with the IRS.

He may pave the way for other community organizations to do the same (though they could also go the 527 route). The Atlantic article (read from the link below) concluded:

… for PACs that already exist, and aren't bashful about disclosing who their donors are, Colbert has just mainstreamed the idea of shunning donations to candidates in favor of unrestricted independent election advertising.

[The Atlantic, Colbert's 'SuperPAC' Pushes the Limits of Election Law, 6/30/2011]

The Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision left ordinary citizens with fewer “free speech” rights than wealthy corporations. There are moves afoot to deny corporate personhood that have poor chances of success, since corporations have so much power over our federal government. While that plays out, if we can’t beat ‘em, why not join ‘em?

Will Colbert’s bold move lead to more interest in citizens uniting to form their own SuperPACs?

(thanks to @FreeRangeNan for spotting this story)


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