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Colbert-Controlled Groups Ship Money to Campaign Watchdogs

Both the Center for Responsive Politics and the Campaign Legal Center responded in Stephen Colbert-like fashion to news that the two political nonprofits would receive about $135,000 each from the comedian’s now-defunct super PAC.

“We will do our best to ensure that groups like Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Colbert Super PAC SHH will not be able to get away with their anonymous shell game shenanigans in future election cycles,” said Legal Center President Trevor Potter in a statement, referring to Colbert’s satirical super PAC and its affiliated nonprofit.

As Colbert’s lawyer, through his practice at Caplin & Drysdale, Potter had helped Colbert set up the groups on a series of TV programs that mocked unrestricted political spending and earned the Comedy Central host a Peabody Award.

A statement from the Center for Responsive Politics was equally tongue-in-cheek.

“We at the Center for Responsive Politics are pleased to announce that our previously nameless gathering place for staff meetings, interviews with reporters and celebrations of all kinds now has an identity: the Colbert Super PAC Memorial Conference Room,” read a statement released by the CRP Friday.

In an email to his fans, the comedian described the series of “extremely suspicious, but entirely legal” transactions that started with a money transfer from his super PAC to his nonprofit and eventually to yet another satirical group, the Ham Rove Memorial Fund. One of Colbert’s props had been a glasses-wearing ham meant to evoke the GOP strategist and super PAC mastermind Karl Rove.

Colbert said the Ham Rove fund would donate $125,000 each to three groups providing relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy, and another $125,000 to a nonprofit serving wounded soldiers. The rest, about $270,000, “will be split between two pro-transparency groups who fight against the corrupting influence of outside money in politics,” his email said. “Luckily, they were both fine with the corrupting influence of outside money in their offices.”

Colbert went on to describe how, per “Ham Rove’s” wishes, CRP “has officially renamed their meeting space ‘The Colbert Super PAC Conference Room,’” and the Legal Center “will be home to ‘The Ham Rove Memorial Conference Room.’”

Both the Campaign Legal Center and CRP, which, according to IRS forms each had budgets of approximately $1 million in 2010, appeared more than happy to take the money. Both nonprofits rely on grants and individual donors for funding.

Colbert’s super PAC drew laughs, but it raised real money, collecting $1.1 million before the comedian terminated it this month.

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