Colbert Joins Fundraising Machine
Yesterday, the Federal Election Commission approved comedian Stephen Colbert’s application to start a political organization that he plans to use to influence the 2012 election. In a 5-1 vote, the agency ruled that Colbert's staff at Comedy Central can help his political organization produce campaign ads without having their work considered a contribution to his PAC. The ads must appear only as part of his comedy program however. Following his victory, Colbert told fans outside the FEC office: "I don't accept the status quo. I do accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express.”
Common Cause weighed in on the result with our own satirical (or not) tribute to Colbert. President Bob Edgar’s opinion piece, posted on Politico.com says:
"The Super PAC launched Thursday by the satirist Stephen Colbert and blessed by the Federal Election Commission is a terrible idea.
It makes a mockery of our campaign finance laws, inviting politicians of all stripes to launch their own Super PAC-linked TV “news” shows and then use those programs to raise buckets of money from corporations, labor unions and other special interests.
It’s the sort of thing Common Cause has always been against. We hate it.
And it’s positively brilliant!
Read the rest of Bob's take on the Colbert PAC »
Common Cause Goes to Illinois
In April, we called on Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel to crack down on the city's ”pay-to-play” political culture by banning campaign contributions from businesses that receive city contracts. Emanuel's reform proposals, which include strengthening the city's Board of Ethics and the office of Inspector General, had not included a "pay-to-play" ban, but he signed one on his first day in office. Common Cause is working to strengthen our presence in Illinois and this new legislation gives us optimism that the state is ready to reform the role of money in politics.
Supreme Conflict Issue Reviews and Member Questions
In the last six months, Common Cause has investigated and revealed serious issues concerning ethics and accountability for justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. After The New York Times published a detailed story last month about Justice Clarence Thomas’ relationship with Texas real estate developer Harlan Crow, we convened a national webinar and conference call for Common Cause members who wanted to know more about the matter.
More than 700 people signed up to join the webinar, which featured Gary S. Stein, a former Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court; Rep. Chris Murphy (Ct.), who has introduced a bill to increase accountability for the Supreme Court; and Common Cause New York Executive Director Susan Lerner, an attorney and founder of the grassroots organization Committee for Judicial Independence.
Common Cause members have asked for more discussions and Q&A sessions like this, and we’re committed to continuing our outreach and education efforts. If you’re interested in our issue-based program work and want to receive action alerts and emails about future webinar calls, join our CauseNet mailing list.