Farewell to The Colbert Report

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Trevor Potter and Stephen Colbert's Super PAC
Image courtesy of Comedy Central

The Campaign Legal Center would like to mark The Colbert Report’s “passing into Eternity” by recognizing the great success of Stephen Colbert in raising public awareness about the increasingly influential role of undisclosed money in politics.  Mr. Colbert applied his creative genius to unravel the truthiness of today’s complicated and ever-evolving campaign finance regime.

Last evening, The Colbert Report ended its nine-year run on Comedy Central.  It is fitting that Campaign Legal Center President Trevor Potter—Stephen Colbert’s personal and on-air lawyer—participated in the final broadcast.  Here is a link to the “We’ll Meet Again" segment where Trevor appears.

This week, TIME Magazine featured a number of stories about the cultural impact ofThe Colbert Report over the years, including:

How Stephen Colbert Schooled Americans in Campaign Finance, an op-ed by Trevor Potter (explaining that “[b]y having his own Super PAC and 501(c)(4), he could evolve right alongside the campaigns” and “explore[] the gray areas of election law”). Five Times Stephen Colbert Changed the World, by Samantha Grossman (listing as number one “[t]he time he helped us actually understandcampaign finance”).

In June 2014, the Annenberg Public Policy Center (at the University of Pennsylvania) released a study entitled Stephen Colbert’s Civics Lesson:  How Colbert Super PAC Taught Viewers About Campaign Finance.  The study found that Mr. Colbert “was more successful in informing his viewers about super PACs and 501(c)(4) groups than were other types of news media.”

The Campaign Legal Center will be eternally grateful to Mr. Colbert for all of the ways in which he applied his creative genius to focus a bright light on the role of money in politics—particularly “undisclosed” money—beginning with the creation of his super PAC Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow . . . to the creation of a 501(c)(4) to keep secret the names of donors . . . to the announcement that the money from Colbert Super PAC vanished without a trace.  Mr. Colbert was not above quid-pro-quo negotiations—and that led to a very substantial donation to the Campaign Legal Center from the Ham Rove Memorial Fund—a new organization that appeared following the disappearance of Colbert Super PAC funds.  The quidwas the donation.  The quo resulted in renaming the Campaign Legal Center’s conference room “The Ham Rove Memorial Conference Room.”  To follow Mr. Colbert’s campaign finance story line from beginning to end, please click here to see all 18 video clips posted on the Campaign Legal Center’s website—including the video he taped to celebrate the dedication of the conference room.

The Campaign Legal Center would like to express its deep respect and gratitude for Mr. Colbert for all the ways in which his creative genius focused a bright light on the money in politics.  We will miss The Colbert Report’s voice on this important issue.