FEC Investigations are No Joke

Last night, The Colbert Report and The Daily Show continued their on-going gag involving the “Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC”. We’ve embedded the clip below, where Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (with call-in legal advice from former FEC Commissioner Trevor Potter) get as close to the line of “not coordinating” as humanly possible.

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Colbert Super PAC – Not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert
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I imagine that the bit where Colbert uses facial cues and changes his voice to nix a proposed Super PAC ad buy in Columbia, SC probably crosses the line of coordination. And Stewart and Colbert seem to realize it as well because they made sure to get assurances from Potter that they could pay any FEC fines with the Super PAC’s treasury funds.

It’s good comedy and good theater. But we should also remember that the actual campaigns and super PACs aren’t trying to contort the rules for the sake of getting a laugh. No super PAC treasurer is going to want to go through a possible multiyear investigation into any alleged coordination, where the real fines come from multiyear legal bills…not just the five or six figure FEC fine at the end of the day.

Super PACs allow for independent speakers to broadcast their message wherever they can. Because of super PACs, candidate or cause supporters can simply air their speech without it being filtered by the official organs of candidates or causes. This unbridled speech is a good thing…the more speech and information available to the voters the better. An informed electorate is a better electorate.

PS: And if you really want to render super PACs irrelevant, then simply uncap limits on direct contributions to candidates.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.