If you’re a fan of the Colbert Show, you’ve probably been following his crusade to set up his own Super PAC. Yes, it’s hilarious, but there is a bigger point being made here. Most of it has to do with the infamous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which basically allows giant corporations as well as labor unions to give as much money as they want to political action committees without having to disclose any of it. So when that political ad comes on TV represented by War Heroes and Orphans for America, you’ll have no idea if it was actually funded by some sinister combination of Halliburton, Skynet and Voldemort.
As Ryan Witt points out on the Examiner.com, plenty of on-air personalities have been pushing their own PACs on TV:
Karl Rove, former key advisor of the Bush administration, has used Fox News to heavily promote his political action committee called American Crossroads. American Crossroads ended up spending over $21 million in the 2010 election in a number of key races. All of that money was used either in support of Republican candidates, or in opposition to Democratic candidates.
This is why Colbert is asking for a media exemption from the FEC to run his Super PAC; he wants to raise money without his parent company, Viacom, having to disclose its finances, just like Karl Rove, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin do with FOX. I do hope Colbert gets the exemption, just so he can run absurd ads on the air demonstrating how broken our campaign finance system has become.
While its hard to track exactly how much more money is being spent by large corporations on campaigns (they don’t have to disclose anything, after all), we do know that outside funding for campaigns in the 2010 midterms jumped to $294.2 million, nearly four times the 2006 total of $68.9 million. Not to mention full a third of political action committees didn’t report who they got their money from. According to the Citizens United ruling, money equals free speech. It looks like more giant corporations than ever are exercising their “free speech” thanks to vehicles like Colbert’s ridiculous Super PAC.
Photo: The U.S. Army, Flickr, CC