If you’re confused, we’ll back up a bit here and lay out Colbert’s finance landscape. In June, he won approval from the Federal Election Commission to form a super PAC, a kind of committee that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash on political activities. The main limitation of such organizations is that they’re not supposed to directly coordinate activities with a candidate.
Of course, you’d have to be a special kind of donor to entrust your money to Stephen Colbert. He’s not going to use it for ads that discuss the merits of President Obama’s approach to Israel. Indeed, the Colbert Super PAC produced an ad that urged voters in the recent Ames, Iowa, straw poll to vote for “Rick Parry.” (Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s name is spelled with an “e”.)
Now, another limitation of super PACs is that they must disclose their donors, and that was the jumping-off point for Colbert’s Thursday show. He had his lawyer, Trevor Potter, come out and give him the paperwork for his brand new shell corporation, named “Anonymous Shell Corporation.” This kind of organization, known in campaign finance terms as a 501(c)(4) firm, doesn’t have to disclose its donors. In turn, it can give unlimited amounts to super PACs.
“What is the difference between that and money laundering?” asked Colbert.
“It’s hard to say,” said his lawyer.