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Trevor Potter and Stephen Colbert Educate the Viewing Public on Campaign Finance Law

June 2, 2014

The Hollywood Reporter featured Trevor Potter regarding his successful explanation of setting up a Super PAC and 501(c)(4) organization on The Colbert Report. The University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center found that The Colbert Report did a better job than other news sources at teaching people about campaign financing. Part of The Colbert Report's effectiveness was its use of a continuing narrative in which the host went from an observer to an active participant, which engaged viewers more than the news media's traditional approach. For the complete article, please visit The Hollywood Reporter's website.

Excerpt taken from the article.

Starting in 2011, Colbert actively explored the world of campaign finance regulations, creating his own super PAC called "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow," which was allowed to accept unlimited corporate donations. The host also created a 501(c)(4) shell corporation to which donations could be given anonymously. That group could funnel the anonymously donated money to the super PAC. During the creation of and modification to these devices, Colbert had former FEC chairman Trevor Potter guide him through the current state of campaign finance legislation, with Potter answering his character's questions like, "So I could get money from my (c)(4), use that for political purposes and nobody knows anything about it until six months after the election?" prompted by Potter's revelation that Colbert didn't have to file with the IRS until May 2013. And when Colbert and Potter determined that he could take funds donated anonymously to his (c)(4) and transfer them to his transparent super PAC and just say that the earlier donations came from his (c)(4), Colbert asked, "What is the difference between that and money laundering?"


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