A comedian’s political action committee raised more than $1 million in a few months in small donations from TV viewers who responded to a gag about supposed non-coordination of candidates and the newly allowed unlimited-contribution groups.
The Stephen Colbert super PAC is the first to file paperwork, but all the major super PACs must reveal their donors by midnight Tuesday, for the first time since they begun raising money in earnest.
“Dear Sirs and Sirettes, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow (ABTT) would like it entered into the record that as of January 30th, 2012, the sum total of our donations was $1,023,121.24. Stephen Colbert, president of ABTT, has asked that I quote him as saying, ‘Yeah! How you like me now, FEC? I’m rolling seven digits deep! I got 99 problems, but a non-connected independent-expenditure-only committee ain’t one!’ I would like it noted for the record that I advised Mr. Colbert against including that quote.”
The super PAC was created to mock the groups created after a 2010 Supreme Court ruling. The groups can accept unlimited cash contributions from corporations and unions, and though they are strictly barred from coordinating with candidates on spending, each of the presidential candidates has a super PAC formed expressly to spend money to ensure their election.
In all cases except that of Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, the super PACs are run by people with close ties to the candidates, reducing the need for active communication. Even so, candidates and PACs can exchange messages through the media and other public forums.
Though conservatives have long argued that transparency is the best deterrent to corruption, and liberals have argued that contribution caps are, super PACs fall short on both. Donors haven’t been disclosed since June, when many of the currently active super PACs didn’t even exist.
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Luke Rosiak is a projects reporter on The Washington Times’ investigative team. He formerly covered lobbying and campaign finance for two watchdog groups as well as transportation for The Washington Post. Luke can be reached at email@example.com.
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