Stephen Colbert: A GOP Contender?

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Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — TV host and comedian Stephen Colbert might be adding a new title to his already long resume: presidential candidate for the United States of America of South Carolina.

“I am proud to announce that I am forming an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for my possible candidacy for president of the United States of South Carolina,” Colbert announced Thursday to an amped-up crowd on his late-night Comedy Central show The Colbert Report.

Of course, there is no actual United States of South Carolina.  And even if Colbert were looking to run in the Jan. 21 primary, the filing deadline for South Carolina’s primary ballot is long past, so Mr. Colbert would have to rely on write-ins.

Rather, Colbert’s announcement was a stunt in his long running narrative to call attention to the problems of the super PACs — the independent expenditure committees with unlimited fundraising ability — which are so prevalent in this election cycle.

Colbert began his show by inviting out former Federal Election Commission chairman Trevor Potter, playing the role of Colbert’s personal lawyer, or, as Colbert also described him, his “money’s spiritual advisor.”  Colbert and Potter engaged in a dialogue about the do’s and don’ts of superPACs, and Colbert asked Potter if he could join the race and maintain control over his super PAC.

“No … you cannot be a candidate and run a super PAC, that would be coordinating with yourself,” said Potter.  “You can have it run by someone else.”

At that point, Colbert invited fellow late-night star Jon Stewart out onto the set.  Colbert asked Potter if it would be ok if he transferred control of his super PAC to Stewart, even though the two are business partners.  They joked that they were starting a combination bagel shop and travel agency called “From Schmeer to Eternity.”

“Being business partners does not count as coordinating, legally,” explained Potter.

The bit continued as Colbert and Stewart engaged in a “transfer of power,” and afterwards Mr. Stewart and Mr. Potter each left the set, and Colbert made his “announcement,” balloons dropped, and the audience went wild.

The rise of the super PAC began in 2010 when the Supreme Court ruled that independent spending for political purposes was protected under the first amendment, in the landmark case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.  Thursday night’s segment offered a thoughtful critique of these new groups who are legally not allowed to coordinate with the candidates they are supporting, but are often run by former staffers, highlighting the strong ties that bind candidates to these powerful organizations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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