The Federal Election Commission gets it — Stephen Colbert is punking them. But they treated his request for an advisory opinion like anyone else, and on Thursday granted him the ability to form a "super PAC" and have his parent company Viacom pay for most of the costs of the PAC's activities without having to disclose most expenditures as in-kind donations.
Colbert, alongside his lawyer Trevor Potter, appeared at the FEC's public hearing at their headquarters in downtown Washington on Thursday morning. After asking Colbert a series of questions about the planned activities of 'Colbert Super PAC' — such as whether the ads the group creates would run on other channels — the commission voted 5-1 on an advisory opinion to give him the go-ahead.
Campaign finance reform groups opposed Colbert's motion because they said it would allow other media companies and politicians who have their own programs to promote their political action committees under the guise of a media exemption.
After the meeting wrapped, Colbert addressed a throng of supporters and reporters just outside the FEC building.
"Sixty days ago today, on this very spot, a young man petitioned the FEC for permission to form a 'super PAC' to raise unlimited monies, and use those monies to determine the winners of the 2012 elections," Colbert said. "Can anyone tell me who that young man was? It was me."
"Now some people have cynically asked, is this some kind of joke? Well I for one don't think that participating in a democracy is a joke," Colbert told the crowd. "I don't think that wanting to know what the rules are is a joke."
"But I do have one federal election law joke if you'd like to hear it," Colbert said.
"Knock knock?" Colbert said.
"Who's there?" asked the crowd.
"Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions," Colbert said.
"Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions who?" the crowd replied.
"That's the thing, I don't think I should have to tell you," Colbert replied.
After his speech, Colbert accepted credit card donations to his "super PAC" using an iPad application.