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Stephen Colbert's PAC parody turns serious

June 30, 2011 at 4:20 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, June 30 (UPI) -- The Federal Election Commission Thursday gave political satirist Stephen Colbert permission to open a self-titled "Colbert Super PAC."

Colbert's idea for a political action committee that could raise and spend an unlimited amount of money may have begun as a parody of a recent Supreme Court decision on his Comedy Central cable show, "The Colbert Report," but the 5-1 ruling makes the newly formed super PAC viable for the 2012 election season.

The FEC also ruled Viacom Corp., Comedy Central's parent and the mock conservative pundit's employer, must report any help it provides for the comedian's political endeavors beyond what's aired as a joke on the channel, The Washington Post said.

The commission also decided unanimously that political candidates can fundraise for their super Pacs only within legal FEC limits.

Campaign finance reformers had feared the worst -- that the FEC would allow unlimited contributions by media companies with no reporting requirement, but that was not the case.

"If we had viewed this as a funny request, that would have been a lot easier," said commission member Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat.

Colbert, who is non-committal about running for office in 2012, also was non-committal about the purpose of the super PAC. "I've got to get some money first," he said.

He took donations from supporters on E Street, swiping their credit cards with a special reader on his iPad. At least four people donated $50 each and some gave cash, The Hill reported.

Politico said Colbert's seriousness before the panel won praise from FEC Chairwoman Cynthia Bauerly.

"Stephen Colbert is a funny man, but he asked a legitimate question and received a serious answer," she said in a statement. "The opinion adopted today does not give him everything he asked for, but it appropriately applies the press exemption consistent with past commission and court precedent."

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