Colbert 'Super PAC' gets FEC green light

Comedian and TV host Stephen Colbert can forge ahead with plans to form a so-called Super PAC, thanks to a 5-1 vote by the Federal Election Commission Thursday. The decision allows Colbert to utilize the resources of his Comedy Central show to produce ads for his PAC and promote it under a media exemption. It means the network's parent company -- Viacom -- would not have to report those expenses as an in-kind contribution. However, the reporting requirement would be triggered if Colbert's PAC funds ads or activities outside the scope of his Comedy Central program.    Though Colbert's request may have started as a joke, commissioners emphasized Thursday that the vote will have real implications for campaign finance law. The comedian was represented Thursday by former FEC commissioner Trevor Potter. Despite his reputation, Colbert was anything but funny during the hearing. He spoke only once, in answer to a question from Republican commissioner Don McGhan, but his answer didn't contain anything close to a punch line.    After commissioners ruled in his favor, though, Colbert took to the street outside the FEC's headquarters, creating a circus-like atmosphere where he greeted a sizable group of onlookers and fans. He also gleefully accepted his first donations. “Knock, Knock,” Colbert shouted to the crowd. "Who's there?" they responded. “Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions,” he said. “Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions who?” the crowd asked. “That’s the thing, I don’t think I should have to tell you.” Prior to the hearing, reform advocates worried that a ruling in favor of Colbert could open the door for others, people like Fox News contributors Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, to use the resources of that network to fund activities related to their political committees; activity the network would not have to report. But given the relatively narrow scope of Thursday's decision, that's unlikely to occur.  

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