June 30, 2011 8:59am PT by Eriq Gardner
Stephen Colbert Gets FEC Blessing To Start Super-PAC
Today, Stephen Colbert got approval from Federal Election Commission for a "Colbert Super PAC." The agency's decision will allow him to produce and air political advertisements.
Colbert requested a "media exemption" to allow money coming into his PAC to not be classified as an "in-kind" contribution from Viacom, parent comedy of Comedy Central. The company didn't want to be so closely associated with Colbert's politicking, but the satirist still wanted to be able to use some of Viacom's production resources, airtime, and staff.
Colbert argued that his political behavior should be seen an editorial, subject to free speech. Today, Colbert got his wish.
The ruling may have huge impact on how other PACs operate, such as the ones from commentators on the Fox News network. Some campaign finance reform advocates worried that a ruling for Colbert could undermine clean elections by opening up "gaping disclosure loopholes," especially for politicians with TV contracts.
According to the National Journal, the commission voted, by a 5-to-1 margin, that Colbert's advertisements could not be run outside of Colbert's show in keeping with a narrow interpretation of the media exemption rule.
The FEC has likely never seen such a circus over a dispute in its history.
On last night's "Colbert Report," the host chatted with his lawyer, former FEC chairman Trevor Potter about what was ahead, and urged viewers to show up at the FEC: