Stephen Colbert, Citizen’s United, and Super PACs

Much has been written about what the US Supreme Court unleashed with its CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION ruling that allowed much more money to invade the electoral process in new ways. One of the obvious new features are the so-called Super PACs that are free to pour money into ads as long as they work independently of the candidates.

While many have noted that this leaves the door wide open for abuses, Stephen Colbert is the one who has best exposed this potential, by creating his own Super PAC. Last week’s segment beautifully described how the required separation between the candidate and the Super PAC can be easily made a sham.

Note that Colbert’s personal lawyer and advisor during all this is Trevor Potter, who served as a commissioner and chair of the Federal Election Commission during the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations, that is supposed to monitor elections and that the election laws are followed. So you can be pretty sure that what Colbert is doing, as ridiculous as it looks, is likely legal.

Here is the ad that the Super PAC that Jon Stewart now runs is airing in South Carolina.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Super PAC Ad – Attack In B Minor For Strings
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Colbert then went on ABC’s This Week to defend himself against charges that he is attacking Mitt Romney.


  1. Ned Champlain says

    Are Colber t and Stewart brilliant? They do the nation a great favor and make us laugh at the same time

  2. julian says

    One of the bad points of law, people spend to much time discussing some anachronistic rule or reference and forget that their decisions have practical implications.

  3. unbound says

    Note, sadly, how the ABC reporter pretty much goes out of his way to avoid the obvious issue here. Another well-trained journalist…

  4. says

    Colbert, staying diligently in character, makes Stephanopoulos look like a lightweight, doesn’t he? (That long bio you posted the other day, Mano, made me respect Colbert even more.) I wonder if John Stewart himself is starting to feel somewhat over-shadowed.

    The ad against Romney develops Colbert’s favorite theme of corporate personhood brilliantly. The only problem is that it is all way over the heads of most of the electorate, and beyond the ken of the conventional punditocracy whose job it is to tell the electorate what to think.

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