Spend Freely but Don’t Coordinate

The role of Super PACs in elections continues to unravel as Colbert and Stewart try to expedite the process and thumb their noses at big money in politics.

The ridiculousness of the American electoral process just became more apparent on Thursday night when Stephen Colbert announced that he will explore the possibility of seeking the Republican nomination for the Presidency of the United States in the upcoming South Carolina primary election. Colbert’s recent electoral activity has included the establishment of a political action committee, known as Colbert Super PAC, in the hopes of influencing/mocking the elections.

Super PACs are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money as a form of free speech that is protected under the Constitution. The main restriction placed on them is that they are not permitted to coordinate with any candidate they are supporting, which led to Colbert’s announcement on his show Thursday night. In order to run, Stephen would be disallowed from coordinating with the PAC that bears his name. Just before announcing his almost-candidacy, and in the presence of his lawyer (and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission), Colbert officially signed over leadership of Colbert Super PAC to his old boss and fellow Comedy Central fake news anchor, Jon Stewart. The PAC was then referred to as the “Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC”.

Of course it is absurd that Jon Stewart can run a political action committee in support of (and founded by) Stephen Colbert and claim that they will not be working together, which is precisely what the two hope to expose. Every major candidate currently has at least one Super PAC working on their behalf, and as the fake news duo has shown, it will be nearly impossible to prove coordinating between candidates and Super PACs. This, in spite of clear professional and financial links between the candidates and the PACs that support them.

Colbert’s decision to flirt with the race came in the wake of a recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling in which the comedian, with 5% support, finished 6th among Republican candidates – beating Jon Huntsman by one percentage point. It is too late for Colbert to have his name included on the actual ballot in South Carolina, meaning his campaign must rely on write-in votes next Saturday. Expect at least a few humorous commercials to hit the airwaves, in South Carolina and beyond.


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