Stephen Colbert Effectively Kills Any Limits (or need to disclose) Direct Campaign Contributions by Corporations to PACs

Well, didn’t this turn out funny…

The Federal Election Commission has officially approved Stephen Colbert’s SuperPAC, allowing him to create independent advertisements and raise unlimited campaign donations in the 2012 election cycle.

Colbert’s quest to form a political action committee began in March, after lampooning an ad for Tim Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC, with the satirical slogan “Making a better tomorrow, tomorrow.” Every time he covered the latest on his PAC, Colbert brought Trevor Potter, former FEC chairman, on the program to explain campaign finance law to him and his audience. When Viacom initially expressed concern that Colbert could cause unnecessary financial scrutiny, they sent him a letter asking him to stop. Luckily for Colbert, he discovered a loophole that allowed him to set up a Super PAC (groups that have existed since the Citizens United ruling), and filed a formal request with the FEC for a media exemption in May.

Essentially what this allows is what is already happening…huge media companies can contribute millions in free air time and ads and publicity to candidates without ever having to account for that in any way shape or form.

Granting the exemption would produce what the reformers called “a sweeping and damaging impact on disclosure laws,” which would allow media companies to fund employees’ political activities anonymously. Politicians who are employed by media companies could use their television shows as platforms to raise unlimited funds for their PACs, without having to disclose it, the reform groups said.

Additionally, those media companies would be allowed to anonymously pay for independent expenditure ads for those PACs, which could then be played on other networks and shows, as well as online. Media companies (Including Fox News, which employs several political figures associated with super PACs) could fund the administrative costs of their employees’ PACs, without having to disclose that donation.

“Mr. Colbert’s ultimate goals here may be comedic,” the reformers wrote. “But the commission should not be the straight man at the expense of the law.”

Which is to say, it makes what News Corp does every day officially all cool.

Did a short video about this the other day…we need to just cut to the chase  officially give corporations the full rights of “citizens”, in particular voting rights.

BTW, the FEC also made it pretty obvious they already belonged in joke territory with their other ruling this week…

Federal Election Commission attorneys sought a full-scale investigation of former Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, but the three GOP commissioners on the bipartisan commission blocked the probe, newly released FEC documents show.

FEC attorneys “found reason to believe” that O’Donnell, Tea Party Express and Our Country Deserves Better PAC improperly coordinated contributions and expenditures prior to the 2010 Senate GOP primary, where O’Donnell pulled a surprising upset on longtime Rep. Mike Castle. The FEC attorneys wanted to move ahead with an investigation into the case, including subpoenas.

The complaint against O’Donnell was filed by the Delaware Republican Party, which backed Castle in the GOP primary.

But the three GOP commissioners on the FEC —- Don McGahn, Caroline Hunter and Matthew Petersen — refused to support any O’Donnell investigation, thereby blocking it. There must be at least four votes on the six-member, bipartisan panel to approve any FEC action.The three Democrats on the FEC voted to move ahead with the O’Donnell probe.

O’Donnell is still under investigation by the FBI over allegations that she used campaign funds for personal expenses, including using donated funds to pay her rent. O’Donnell strongly denies the allegations.

UPDATE: The FEC is a super-joke, it turns out….peep this.

[Raising unlimited funds] was the declared approach of the Republican Super PAC, a committee formed by Indiana attorney James Bopp, a strenuous opponent of campaign finance restrictions. Bopp’s PAC, created in May, planned to invite elected officials and candidates to raise unlimited money for the group, with the understanding those funds could then be earmarked to campaigns on behalf of those who solicited the funds.

So the FEC said no, you can’t do that…but take a look at what it is you can’t do…

In its opinion Thursday, approved by a 6-0 vote, the FEC said candidates, elected officials and national party committees can only solicit an individual maximum of $5,000 for a super PAC, the same limit an individual can make to any single political action committee.

Key word bolded.   The guy fighting for this knows exactly what *that* means…

As for Republican Super PAC’s plans, Bopp is undeterred. He pronounced the ruling as “exactly what we wanted.”

“There’s approval for candidates and political party officials to solicit for super PACs,” Bopp said. “They are going to praise and endorse the super PAC they are soliciting for. “

Bopp said any promotion of the PAC by a candidate or officeholder would have a disclaimer that the request was only for up to $5,000 for individuals.

“But donors are free to contribute all they want,” he said. “This disclaimer is completely meaningless.”

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