Colbert Fake Campaign May Be Illegal

Stephen Colbert, the liberal comedian who portrays a conservative TV talk show host, recently launched a similarly fake presidential campaign. Trouble for him and his network, the fact that Colbert's PR stunt is funded by Viacom (Comedy Central) and Doritos may make it illegal:

With its snack-food sponsorship, Democratic and Republican affiliations [MS: isn't that somehow a violation of Colbert's conservative schtick?], and Sen. Larry Craig as a possible running mate, Stephen Colbert's run for the presidency is hardly serious business.

But the joke could be on Colbert if federal election officials decide his candidacy is for real. [...]

Federal law bars corporations from contributing to candidates, either through donations or in-kind contributions such as free use of goods or services.

Media organizations are permitted to feature presidential candidates in covering campaigns.

But no precedent exists for a television network promoting and fostering a candidacy of one of its own talk-show hosts, said Lawrence M. Noble, a former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission. And comedian Pat Paulsen's 1968 candidacy predated current campaign finance regulations. [...]

Colbert is taking formal steps that are consistent with an actual presidential candidacy.

He has begun collecting signatures to get himself placed on both the Democratic and Republican presidential primary ballots in South Carolina.

And while he has said he's in the race to run, not to win, he has talked about trying to win delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

It's just as well. Like NBer Kathleen McKinley, I can't help but wonder when Colbert's humor is going to get old for the liberal-stream media. There is such a thing as overexposure.

Update (Ken Shepherd | 17:31): Kenneth Vogel of Politico filed a related story five days earlier than the ABCNews.com story linked in the item above. For Vogel's October 19 story, click here.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013