February 9, 2012; Source: Washington Post | The most influential person in American politics today may be Stephen Colbert. Colbert’s one-man assault on the vapid oversight of PACs has had a huge affect on the American public’s awareness of the problem of coordination between political candidates and their allegedly independent super PACs, which are generally created and staffed by their former aides and fundraisers.
Now, gearing up to introduce a new version of the DISCLOSE Act in order to get at the secret money through 501(c)(4)s flowing into super PACs, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is targeting Colbert to make her point. Colbert “must be stopped,” Pelosi says in a new web video:
“Since the day he started his super PAC, taking secret money from special interests, he’s been out of control—even using his super PAC to attack my friend, Newt Gingrich,” Pelosi says in the video. To stop Colbert, Pelosi argues, “the first step is passing the DISCLOSE Act.” The original DISCLOSE bill failed in Congress even after deals were cut to largely exempt the National Rifle Association from some of the toughened reporting requirements. This new version aims as stricter disclosure requirements for corporations, nonprofits (501(c)(4)s), and super PACs. To find out more about Pelosi’s campaign against Colbert’s ability to collect secret donations, she refers people to Facebook.com/StopColbert.
But Democrats have a slight problem with super PACs and disclosure. President Obama just recently endorsed the Democratic Super PAC Priorities USA Action, created by his former aides, and Pelosi raises money for the House Majority PAC, which is aimed at promoting Democrats in the junior chamber. It might be worth noting, however, that unlike Priorities USA and its major Republican rival, Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, Colbert’s PAC does disclose its donors. On the Colbert list are donations from a sailor, an actor (Bradley Whitford), the president of a coal company, a freelance animator, a soap maker, a forensic psychologist, a California state prison guard, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, and a self-described “cosmopolite.” Pelosi’s satirical video reminds us that, on PACs, just as on humor, Colbert is ahead of his time. Nonprofits could learn from Colbert. –Rick Cohen