Some could argue that Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC has made a mockery of the campaign-finance system. His self-created Super PAC, dubbed “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow,” has already demonstrated how easily the rules are manipulated and how few restrictions are placed on the committees. Mockery or not, Colbert’s Super PAC is laughing all the way to the bank.
Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow has raised $1,023,121.24 as of January 30, 2011, according to a filing the PAC made Tuesday to the Federal Election Committee. The filing, posted on his PAC’s website, included a cover letter that was quintessentially Colbert. It quoted the TV host as saying, “Yeah! How you like me now, F.E.C? I’m rolling seven digits deep! I got 99 problems but a non-connected independent-expenditure only committee ain’t one!”
Colbert’s Super PAC was approved by the FEC on June 30, 2011, after which they were legally able to collect money in support of whatever candidate they choose. And the PAC, so far, has produced the precise level of absurdity that his viewers have come to expect: one ad created by the committee encouraged Iowa caucus voters to cast their ballot for Rick Parry (with an “A” for “America,” with an “A” for “Iowa”). Their latest commercial aired in South Carolina attempted to get voters to choose Herman Cain in the state’s primary, despite the fact that the pizza executive dropped out of the race in December.
His persistent promotion and donation perks, including a shout-out on a scrolling ticker during his show, have enchanted the American people, many of whom are disenchanted with politics. Super PACs are allowed to accept unlimited donations and are not required to be affiliated with any particular party. One of the few restrictions – one by which Colbert was keen to abide – is that the Super PAC cannot be run or controlled by the candidate it’s supporting. That’s why when Colbert was “exploring” a presidential run, he momentarily transferred power to his Comedy Central cohort Jon Stewart, temporarily renaming it “The Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC.”
Colbert, who portrays an insider-y Republican on his eponymous show, isn’t fooling the American people with his false GOP representation. In the FEC filing, he counts famous Democrats among his donors, including California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and West Wing actor Bradley Whitford. But it wouldn’t be a Colbert-run organization without some satire sprinkled in: NewsFeed came across donors on the list named “Harry Ballsagna” and “Pat Magroin.” We hope most of the other contributors detailed on the 147-page document are real – but with Colbert, coiner of the term “truthiness,” it’s often hard to tell.