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Stephen Colbert launches his Super PAC

April 15, 2011|By Melanie Mason

The Colbert Report has become a modern day Schoolhouse Rock, and Thursday night's lesson was all about PACs.

Late last month, Stephen Colbert announced his strategy to become a "political playa in 2012" -- form a political action committee, like fellow conservative TV politi-pundits Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee.

ColbertPAC collected more than 68,000 emails, Colbert said last night. But Comedy Central's corporate parent Viacom, fearing that the PAC violates campaign finance restrictions, asked Colbert to shut the would-be PAC down.

But last night, with help from former FEC Commissioner Trevor Potter, ColbertPAC was resurrected. With the addition of a simple cover letter, it transformed from regular old PAC to a "super PAC," which, sadly, is not, as Colbert suggests, "like a PAC that got bitten by a radioactive lobbyist."

Super PAC is a catchy term for independent expenditure-only committees, which can advocate for or against federal candidates but cannot coordinate with campaigns or political parties.

Thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, super PACs can raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, labor unions, individuals and associations, but they must disclose those donations to the FEC. 

The Colbert Report: bringing the absurdity of campaign finance regulations to its rightful place—late night comedy.  Check out the clip below.

melanie.mason@latimes.com

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