More Unintentional Hilarity from Stephen Colbert’s Campaign Finance Stunt

Politico reports that Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert’s attempt to form a political action committee in order to lampoon the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has put campaign finance activists in anything but a laughing mood. Here's the story from Politico's Kenneth Vogel:

“I think Colbert is trying to dramatize problems in the campaign finance world in the way that he dramatizes other things,” said longtime campaign finance reform advocate Fred Wertheimer, a longtime advocate for stricter campaign finance rules who is president of Democracy 21. “But nevertheless, the proposals here would potentially open gaping disclosure loopholes in the campaign finance laws.”

Wertheimer is so concerned about what Colbert is doing, in fact, that Democracy 21 has joined with the Campaign Legal Center, another advocacy group, to petition the FEC to reject his request because it could result in the “radical evisceration” of campaign finance rules.

If Colbert gets his way before the FEC, it could blur the lines between political money and media to an unprecedented extent.

Oops!

Here’s another way to look at it. Colbert’s stunt has unintentionally revealed the ridiculous nature of campaign finance regulations. As Steve Simpson and Paul Sherman of the Institute for Justice recently observed in The Wall Street Journal:

Campaign-finance laws are so complicated that few can navigate them successfully and speak during elections—which is what the First Amendment is supposed to protect. As the Supreme Court noted in Citizens United, federal laws have created "71 distinct entities" that "are subject to different rules for 33 different types of political speech." The FEC has adopted 568 pages of regulations and thousands of pages of explanations and opinions on what the laws mean." Legalese" doesn't begin to describe this mess.

So what is someone who wants to speak during elections to do? If you're Stephen Colbert, the answer is to instruct high-priced attorneys to plead your case with the FEC... How's that for a punch line? Rich and successful television personality needs powerful corporate lawyers to convince the FEC to allow him to continue making fun of the Supreme Court. Hilarious.

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  • sarcasmic||

    Of the lawyers, by the lawyers, and for the lawyers.

  • Sinic||

    Colbert stopped being funny as soon as he left the daily show.

    And anyone can say anything they want before an election; just not publicly.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    But...But!...BUT!...THE KOCH BROTHERS!!!!1!!!!!!!!!1

  • Tony||

    This is the problem with adherence to principles as sacred things... if "free speech" entails unlimited spending to influence elections, then obviously "free speech" is flawed and out to be rethought. We could, of course, hold on to this cherished liberty by simply not equating spending money with speaking.

  • Sinic||

    If the fourth amendment allows people to hide their weed, then obviously it is flawed and ought to be rethought.

  • ||

    Don't. Feed. The. Troll.

    Ignore, people. Set phasers to ignore. If you don't feed it, it dies. In fact, ignoring it is the cruelest thing you can do to it.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Funny how some people think free speech is overrated... like that troll just did.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    But we're such kind folk here, Epi. We hate to seem dumb creatures suffer.

  • ||

    Then put it out of its misery.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Death by snoo-snoo!

    Oh, wait... that won't work in this case.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    That's an idea.
    I used to trap when I was a kid. Usually my drowning snares worked just fine, but I have killed muskrats and raccoons in hand-to-paw combat.

  • ||

    I'm not and I don't. In fact, I want to see them suffer. So starve them.

  • Otto||

    Set phasers to ignore.

    Pretend it's an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise...

  • Neu Mejican||

    Don't. Feed. The. Troll.

    Ignore, people. Set phasers to ignore. If you don't feed it, it dies. In fact, ignoring it is the cruelest thing you can do to it.

    And yet Epi can't ignore. He must respond. Somehow.

  • Yup||

    ^

  • Lord Obama||

    Or equating "making a documentary" with "free speech"!

  • Tony||

    Citizens United was a front organization, and the "movie" they made didn't deserve to be seen by anyone.

  • Lord Obama||

    Wait, I get confused. Is this real Tony or spoof Tony?

  • ||

    Is there a difference?

  • ||

    Exactly. You're having a party. A masked man runs into your living room and shits on the floor.

    Does the fact that the man under the mask is a friend of yours change the fact you have a steaming heap of turds on your living room floor?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Serious aside: This reminds me -- I hate to be the Emily Fucking Post of HnR, but I hate it when a spoofer doesn't at least offer some tip-off that they're spoofing.

  • ||

    Then. Ignore. Them.

    Why is this so hard?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Huh?
    How do you ignore a spoofer if you don't know they're spoofing?

  • ||

    How do you ignore a spoofer if you don't know they're spoofing?

    Considering the "non-spoof" is a fucking sockpuppet, how about ignoring them all?

    Why is this so hard?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Obviously, in the case of Tony. But it's not always Tony.

  • Anonypussy­©||

    Episiarch|6.30.11 @ 11:17AM|#
    Then. Ignore. Them.

    aka Do as I say, not as I do.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    When the reality and the parody become indistinguishable, you know you've got a real problem on your hands.

  • ||

    There should be a code. Like the first letters of each word spell out something.

  • Tony||

    I must absolutely denounce odd orthographical finagling.

  • ||

    Yes, something like that.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    HUR DURR I'm the Emily Post of HnR!

  • Trespassers W||

    (Like that?)

  • Citizen Nothing||

    It took you 12 minutes to think of that?
    Jesus. I thought I was gonna have to spoof myself.

  • Otto||

    You're just pissed b/c I stopped inviting you to my parties. Admit it.

  • ||

    I never wear a mask. If I'm going to shit in the your living room, you are going to know it was me. And that living room is going to stay beshitted.

  • ||

    The ontological waters run deep, grasshopper.

    Is it even possible to spoof a sock-puppet?

  • ||

    And you get to decide what "movie" deserves to be seen because.........?

  • sarcasmic||

    Good point.
    We should abandon all principles.
    Free speech allows people to say things that our rules don't like, therefor it should be abandoned.
    The right to arms is stupid because it allows people to hurt people. Only our rulers should have guns.
    Freedom from search and seizure? Bunk! Everyone is a drug user or terrorist in need of assrape in a prison cell until they prove their innocence by submitting to a cavity search.
    States' rights? That's code for racism. Straight up!

    Fuck the Constitution. It puts limits on government. Government can't function with limits.

    Burn it!

  • Randy Marsh||

    Burn it...BURN THE MUTHAFUCKA TO THA GROUND!!!!!

  • Tony||

    Let me make an analogy that actually makes sense. Say the SCOTUS determines that the 2nd Amendment requires that people be allowed to own nuclear weapons. Why not? It doesn't specify what kind of arms. But if that were to be the case, obviously the 2nd Amendment would have to be rethought. Right?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    *yawn*

  • sarcasmic||

    No. If people were allowed to own nukes, being that they are so expensive that only a government can purchase them, it wouldn't matter.
    Same thing with tanks, fighter jets, etc.
    It's a moot point.

  • some guy||

    Nukes are expensive... but not that expensive. Numerous corporations and wealthy individuals could afford to carry around a few small ones. But why would they?

    Also, it would still be illegal to nuke people, just like it is illegal to shoot people.

  • sarcasmic||

    The initial investment is so prohibitively expensive, enrichment specifically, that only government can afford it.
    Without government involvement there would be no nuclear weapons or nuclear power for that matter.
    The return on investment isn't there, so it requires crooks investing stolen money to happen.

  • Tony||

    So we'll just prosecute anyone who nukes anything. No ounces of prevention for libertarians. Freedom means the freedom to risk being vaporized at any moment!

  • sarcasmic||

    "No ounces of prevention for libertarians."

    Now you're getting it!
    Punish people for what they actually do, not for what they might do.
    Punish people for their actions, not their thoughts.
    Make government a reactive entity, not a proactive one.

  • sarcasmic||

    Freedom means the freedom to risk being vaporized at any moment!

    yes

  • ||

    What if you nuke them in self defense?

  • Joe M||

    This has got to be a spoof. Please.

  • Paul||

    We could, of course, hold on to this cherished liberty by simply not equating spending money with speaking.

    Tony, why do supporters of campaign finance continuously do exactly that?

    IN addition, your team is well known for equating speech with money? You do realize there's an entire text of the McCain-Feingold act called "Express Advocacy", right?

    Here is the President's own council (and the husband of Anita Dunn) in 2009 discussing this very issue, Tony. I strongly suggest you read it:

    http://www.moresoftmoneyhardla.....l?AID=1440

    Still the law captures communications somewhat--and perhaps in some instances significantly--more modulated than full-throated electoral advocacy: the "functional equivalent" kind. So if Hillary: the Movie were such speech, that is, if it did not contain express advocacy but its functional equivalent, it could not be run on general distribution broadcast, cable or satellite facilities. This takes the corporate and union spending prohibition, as applied to a film, one step further: beyond express advocacy to harsh criticism. This is what the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and those affiliated with it, like Tony Mauro, worry about.

    When liberals got on the book banning tear, you guys lost all your credibility. All of it.

  • Sinic||

    Hilarity. Where's the hilarity? The post title promised hilarity.
    AMUSE ME!!!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It's hilarity of the wry variety. Embrace it.

  • gay cannibal||

    I won't bite it off. You can trust me.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Don't you see, Viacom isn't one of the *bad* corporations, it runs a news show which enlightens the people! Why should this noble media corporation be subject to a bunch of regulations which were only supposed to apply to Halliburton, Wal-Mart, and other corporate evildoers?

  • Lord Obama||

    Good, good! Let the hate flow through you!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Other evil corporations include: Mobil, Wall Street firms (except Goldman Sachs), and the Umbrella Corporation.

    Good corporations include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Microsoft (assuming it still owns *Slate*), the New York Times Company, and so on.

  • Lord Obama||

    Um, Microsoft?

    Okay, okay, Bill Gate wants to "reform" capitalism, so I'll give you that one.

    But they had better not unfairly compete in the internet browser market EVER again!

  • proegg antichicken||

    The ironing is that IE is pretty much corporate-only at this point. Wonder what anti-trust machinations they'll wring Google through?

  • ||

    Google was one of the companies that pushed for anti-trust action against Microsoft. So if they get fucked? OOPS! I can't feel too bad for them.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    You left out GE, brah.

  • OO||

    tony - if money's "free speech", then why cant politicans simply buy votes directly w money?

  • Sinic||

    The bidding for my vote starts at $50.

  • CoyoteBlue||

    I try to avoid mixing politics with the filthy lucre. So a couple of six packs of quality beer will do. I like to mix politics with alcohol.

  • OO||

    im thinkin local free speech is maybe around $20

  • ||

    I wouldn't have a problem with this, actually. If they used their own money and didn't claim any powers that were not specifically granted to them by the constitution once in office. But then, it probably wouldn't be worth the money to buy all those votes anyway.

  • Trespassers W||

    If I understand the system correctly, they're already buying other people's votes with my money.

  • Joe M||

    Aren't they pretty much doing that? Incumbents at least.

  • cynical||

    With their own money (including campaign funds), sure. With the public's money, it's embezzlement, since whether they win or don't win is a personal matter, not something that is in the government's interest.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    So... as long as you don't spend money on it, free speech is fine and dandy.

    Is that the lesson Obama is going to give us when he spends upwards of a billion dollars to get re-elected?

  • Lord Obama||

    Democrats have to raise a billion dollars just to keep up with the Republicans.

    Sweet fucking Jesus, this isn't complicated!

  • Nutroots||

    THE GODDAMN RETHUGLICANS WOULD RAISE $2 BILLION IF WE WEREN'T ABLE TO LIMIT WHAT EEEEEEVIL CORPORATIONS GAVE TO THEM!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Ooooh! MSNBC suspends another of its minions:

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201106300018

    Halperin called Obama a "dick". Why was he suspended for telling the truth?

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    They're calling it a "slur".

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I'm still looking for the offense... shit, I've read this thing five times, and nothing comes to mind.

  • H man||

    Because the 30th ad showing that the opposition is a douche is what will make me vote for you as opposed the 29th. Got it.

  • ||

    It's only evil spending if it's done by evil people - you know, the kind that produce stuff, create wealth and other anti-governmenty stuff.

  • Richard Head||

    you forget the evilness of the all-powerful public union money; no election can resist it's power

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    I don't know what I'm getting tired of more, campaign-finance "reform" or Stephen King's bitching about movie adaptations that are better than his original novels.

    I mean, seriously, FUCK YOU STEPHEN KING!

  • ||

    Free Speech isn't free!

    Or something.

    Enlightened people giving money to Obama is good; deranged anti-government teabagsterdz giving money to Michelle Bachmann is bad.

    Anybody who wants to reduce the scope and power of government needs to STFU.

  • ||

    I hate it when a spoofer doesn't at least offer some tip-off that they're spoofing.

    Tony is a self-spoofing entity.

  • ||

    Right now, some administration functionary is blabbering about how evil Republicans are holding up one or more trade bills by whining about a huge spending bomb (Trade Adjustment assistance) the President has sewn into its belly. For the Working Man.

  • ||

    Yesterday I saw on the news that they were saying congress was holding up bills that financed SHOVEL READY PROJECTS!

    Again, really?

    Fool me once shame on you, won't get fooled again...

  • ||

    I've got to say this--when I hear "shovel ready" I picture gravediggers. I can't be the only American that has that reaction.

  • ||

    See, this has all the beginnings of a truly funny friday funny. Throw in a weeping lady liberty and we got a winner.

  • ||

    I freely give the concept to anyone with artistic ability. I can't draw a convincing stick figure.

  • ||

    Anybody else would do, even PeeEll's Stickonomics Figures(there's your comic's name...that's free, you're welcome).

    I just went to Payne's webpage and he is just a republican stooge. He had an article bitching about a lawmaker reading a Playboy on an airplane:

    In Michigan, TheMichiganView.com is one of the new media that are breaking news that otherwise would not see the light of day. Though Conyers’ perusal of Hefner’s finest is hardly a crime, his brazen reading of pornographic material on a commercial flight calls into question his judgment – and compelled a shocked bystander to record the moment.

    Any man who thinks that Playboy is porn either has no computer or no penis...Payne has a computer.

  • Otto||

    Here you go, PL.

  • ||

    I prefer "concrete loafer ready".

  • Anonymous Coward||

    So what is someone who wants to speak during elections to do? If you're Stephen Colbert, the answer is to instruct high-priced attorneys to plead your case with the FEC... How's that for a punch line? Rich and successful television personality needs powerful corporate lawyers to convince the FEC to allow him to continue making fun of the Supreme Court.

    Would this qualify as being hoist by one's own petard?

  • juris imprudent||

    Shorter Fred Wertheimer: Stop making me look like the douche I am.

  • NoVAHockey||

    FEC issues advisory opinion.

    "The Federal Election Commission has approved an advisory opinion that will allow comedian Stephen Colbert to use funds from a media conglomerate to create advertisements for his independent expenditure-only political action committee.

    But the commission voted, by a five to one margin, that those advertisements could not be run outside of Colbert's show, opting for the most narrow interpretation of the media exemption out of three drafts presented to commission members."

    http://nationaljournal.com/hot.....t-20110630

  • ||

    "The Federal Election Commission has approved an advisory opinion that will allow comedian Stephen Colbert commentator Sarah Palin to use funds from a media conglomerate to create advertisements for his her independent expenditure-only political action committee.

    But the commission voted, by a five to one margin, that those advertisements could not be run outside of Colbert's Palin's show, opting for the most narrow interpretation of the media exemption out of three drafts presented to commission members."

    Why not?

  • IceTrey||

    OMG, government never had a problem with Colbert forming a PAC. It was his employer Viacom that didn't want to expose itself for giving Colbert in kind donations by him using his show to promote his PAC.

  • louis vuitton outlet store||

    why?

  • Air Jordans 2011 Shoes||

    it's great

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