The Federal Election Commission (FEC) Friday gave Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert permission to set up his so-called Super PAC.
Colbert was seeking to be able to use unlimited donations from corporations and individuals on independent expenditures to support or oppose candidates in the 2012 campaign cycle.
Campaign finance reform advocates worried that the FEC would set a dangerous precedent if they agreed to Colbert’s request for a “press exemption” to use the resources of Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom in the Super PAC.
“This would carve out a gaping loophole in campaign finance laws, allowing any company involved in media to foot, in secret and without limit, the electioneering expenses of political committees,” the group Public Citizen warned the FEC in a letter (PDF).
The FEC may have handed advocates the closest thing to a victory by allowing the most narrow interpretation of the media exemption, according to National Journal.
Under the 5-1 ruling, Colbert will only be able to use the media exemption to air ads created by the Super PAC on his own show. Once an ad has aired on another network, Viacom must report an “in kind” contribution.
“I am here to represent your voice so you can all hear what you have to say through my mouth,” Colbert announced to the press following the FEC hearing. “I’m sorry to say, we won!”
“I don’t know about you, but I do not accept limits on my free speech. I don’t know about you, but I do not accept the status quo. But I do accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express. Fifty dollars or less, please because then I do not need to keep a record.”
Watch this video of Colbert’s post-ruling speech, uploaded to YouTube by Talking Points Memo.
Watch this Associated Press video of the FEC ruling.
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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