Stephen Colbert’s super PAC stashes $773K, then shutters

Published: Thursday, Nov. 15 2012 9:32 a.m. MST

After raising more than $1.2 million over the past 15 months, Comedy Central personality and “The Colbert Report” host Stephen Colbert has officially terminated the existence of his super PAC, “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.”

And in a fitting end to the long-running gag parodying loose campaign finance laws, there’s no way to know where Colbert stashed the remaining $773,705 leftover in the super PAC’s coffers.

“While never explicitly stating his intentions, Mr. Colbert used the group to raise awareness of loose campaign finance laws,” Nick Corasaniti wrote late Tuesday on the New York Times’ Caucus blog. “(Monday) … he made the group’s remaining funds — almost $800,000 — ‘disappear’ to a new 501c4 group through an Internal Revenue Service loophole, as explained by his lawyer, the former Federal Election Commission Chairman Trevor Potter.”

CNN’s Political Ticker blog delved even deeper into the details of Colbert’s money maneuvers: “The faux conservative's lawyer explained Monday how Colbert could shift the funds into a 501(c)4 organization, which is considered a private group that's not required to disclose donor information. (Federal Election Commission) documents indicated that Colbert listened to the lawyer's advice, as a massive donation of $773,705 was given to the ‘Colbert Super PAC SHH Institute’ on Monday, leaving the super PAC with zero dollars in the bank by the time of termination.”

“By writing a check from the super-PAC to the 501(c)4 and including an ‘agency letter’ telling the 501(c)4 organization exactly what do with the money, Potter said the new income wouldn't show up on the non-profit's tax return,” The Hill blogger Megan R. Wilson reported. “That means the money would effectively be untraceable when spent.”

A new letter posted on the super PAC’s website and signed by Colbert reads in part, “We ask that you respect our privacy, and more importantly, the privacy of our money. It wishes to stay out of the public eye, so please don't go trying to find it. Rest assured, you won't. We have a really good lawyer.”

During the Republican presidential primaries earlier this year, the pro-Colbert superPAC created parody advertisements and explored the possibility of Colbert running in the South Carolina GOP primary.

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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