Colbert Super PAC

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Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow (also known as the Colbert Super PAC) is a United States political action committee (PAC) established by Stephen Colbert, who portrays a conservative political pundit on the television series ‘The Colbert Report.’ As a super PAC the organization can raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions and other groups, as well as wealthy individuals. Speaking in character, Colbert said the money will be raised not only for political ads, but also ‘normal administrative expenses, including but not limited to, luxury hotel stays, private jet travel, and PAC mementos from Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.’

During the January 12, 2012 episode of The Colbert Report, Colbert announced his plans to form an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for his possible candidacy for ‘President of the United States of South Carolina.’ In the process, he transferred control of the Super PAC to Jon Stewart, renaming it The Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC.

In late 2011 Colbert set up his own 501(c)(4) (non-profit civic league), similar to American Crossroads, a right wing PAC. Colbert served as president, secretary, and treasurer of the organization and its stated purpose was to educate the public. However, the organization may legally donate to his Super PAC, lobby for legislation, and participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as campaigning is not the organization’s primary purpose. Colbert’s organization may legally accept unlimited funds which may be donated by anonymous donors. Since the Federal Election Commission doesn’t require full disclosure, Colbert likens his 501(c)(4) to a ‘Campaign finance glory hole: You stick your money in the hole, the other person accepts your donation, and because it’s happening anonymously, no one feels dirty!’ Colbert is currently looking for a billionaire donor, a so-called ‘sugar daddy.’

Colbert initially named his Delaware shell corporation and 501(c)(4) organization ‘Anonymous Shell Corporation,’ however, according to the Secretary of State’s Office the official name was changed to ‘Colbert Super PAC SHH Institute’ on the same day it was filed. According to experts, Colbert’s actions are perfectly legal and shine a light on how the financing of elections has dramatically changed since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that corporations have free-speech rights to spend unlimited amounts of money in political advertising to elect or defeat candidates for office.

In an email to his suporters Colbert explained how his 501(c)(4) can be used to legally launder anonymous donations to his Super PAC, ‘Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.’ ‘As you know, when we began Colbert Super PAC, we had a simple dream; to use the Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United ruling to fashion a massive money cannon that would make all those who seek the White House quake with fear and beg our allegiance…in strict accordance with federal election law.’

‘And you’ve responded generously; giving your (or, possibly, your parents’) hard-earned money in record numbers. And although we value those donations, we were somewhat surprised to note that none of them ended in ‘-illion.”

‘That is why I formed the Colbert Super PAC S.H.H., a 501(c)(4), to help lure the big donors. As anybody who thumbs through the tax code on the toilet knows, a 501(c)(4) organization is a nonprofit that can take unlimited donations and never has to report the donors. This should be especially helpful considering that establishing this new 501(c)(4) has quadrupled our parentheses budget.’

‘Already, we have gotten a massive donation from [NAME WITHHELD], a kind and [ADJECTIVE WITHHELD] person who only wants to [OBJECTIVE WITHHELD].’

On August 10, the first ad by the Super PAC, titled ‘Episode IV: A New Hope,’ ran in Iowa, telling Iowans to write-in ‘Rick Parry’ instead of Rick Perry at the Ames Straw Poll. The following day the second ad, ‘Behind the Green Corn,’ was run. Two Iowa television stations ran the ads; however, WOI-TV told Colbert that they would not run the ads because they considered them confusing to viewers. In October, the Super PAC released its third ad, titled ‘Foul Balls,’ concerning the 2011 NBA lockout. It also released a fourth ad, also related to the NBA lockout, titled ‘Ball Gags.’

During the January 12th, 2012 episode of The Colbert Report, Colbert announced his plans to run for ‘President of the United States of South Carolina.’ Colbert’s lawyer, Trevor Potter, made it clear that it is illegal for Colbert to run for president while active in his Super PAC (though it would be perfectly legal for him to ‘volunteer’ on its behalf). Colbert then signed over control of his Super PAC to Jon Stewart (President pro tempore), and announced that the organization would now be referred to as ‘The Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC.’

Immediately after this legal block was removed, Colbert announced his decision to form an exploratory committee for his run for ‘President of the United States of South Carolina.’ Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate directly with candidates or political parties since they are ‘independent,’ however a candidate may talk to his super PAC through the media and the super PAC can listen, just like everybody else. In a press release, the new PAC president, Jon Stewart, denied that he and Colbert would secretly coordinate their efforts: ‘Stephen and I have in no way have worked out a series of morse-code blinks to convey information with each other on our respective shows.’

During the runup to the South Carolina primary, the Super PAC released one advertisement attacking Mitt Romney as a ‘serial killer,’ and another which first attacked Colbert and then attacked the Super PAC itself. Both urged South Carolinians to vote for Herman Cain (a former candidate who had suspended his campaign but whose name still appeared on the primary ballot), whom Colbert was using as a proxy as it was too late to get on the ballot himself.

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