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Colbert's Run For President May Be Criminal 625

eldavojohn writes "Some of you may know about Steven Colbert's fake presidential campaign... although are you sure it's fake? Well, it had better be because if it is taken too far — such as if he actually gets on the Republican and/or Democratic ballot in South Carolina — his use of corporations & advertising to back his campaign could get the attention of the Federal Election Commission. Doritos & Comedy Central could be facing some problems as well, funding a man running for president." A million Facebook users have signed up for the "1,000,000 Strong for Stephen T Colbert" group in the last week — though the group could be read as a satire of Barack Obama's similarly-named group, which has fewer than 400,000 members after 9 months.
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Colbert's Run For President May Be Criminal

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    When laws violate the Constitution, it means they must be challenged. This may be the perfect case for such a challenge.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, I'm sure striking down laws allowing rich people to automatically win the election is for the good of the nation, and exactly what the Founders intended.
      • by aichpvee ( 631243 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:08PM (#21141335) Journal
        Not that I'd endorse what the GP said, but how is this all that different from what we have now?
      • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Saturday October 27, 2007 @03:35PM (#21141985) Homepage
        Well then, Mr Coward, how is it any different from all the other self-serving bills put forth by various government officials "on behalf of" the deep pocketed corporations that lobby them ?

        I mean, Halliburton is a nice, community-focused, law-abiding facilitator of world peace... rrright ?

        What I like about Canada is up here, we have sponsorship scandals. In the states, it's just business as usual. I'm not saying the Canadian government is devoid of corruption, geez, we've got a bunch of asshats too! The thing is, when any law prohibits some activity, people find ways around that law. People with money are typically better equipped to find, establish and employ those workarounds. Me, law or no law, I couldn't get any TV show to promote my campaign because I'm a broke ass geek.

        Most everything follows the same pattern... copy-protection: no-cd patches, DVD CSS: decrypters, Laws: loopholes. The reason they all fail is because of the human factor. People make them, and people will break them.
      • by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @03:38PM (#21142019)

        Yeah, I'm sure striking down laws allowing rich people to automatically win the election is for the good of the nation, and exactly what the Founders intended.
        Nothing in the current laws prevent rich people from using their own money... just look at Romney's campaign contributions to himself. So, really the laws in place ensure that only rich people (or those that got their campaign contributions before they started their campaign, in the form of salary or "speaking fees") can afford to run successfully.

        Campaign finance reform is a barrier to entry to keep the parties in control of government.

      • by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @03:52PM (#21142127) Journal
        I'm sure striking down laws allowing rich people to automatically win the election is for the good of the nation,

        Actually the laws have the inverse effect. Instead of a potentially good leader being backed by (and owe favors to...) one or two super rich people, we have been left with poor leaders who are excellent fund raisers and who owe favors to many many people.

        One of the most appealing things about politicians like Bloomberg or Perot is their freedom to do the job without oweing any special favors. The same or better could be said about a candidate that was sponsored solely by a Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. Everyone would know that the was a connection between the two and special favors would be glaring obvious and embarrassing.

        The way campaign funding works now, I have almost no idea who the candidates really owe. Sure I could track down the long lists of info if I so desired, but it's a very long list for each and every candidate. I also have very how to direct my daily purchasing in regards to political spending, ie. If I buy a pint of Ben and Jerry's is the profit fro that going to go into a Democratic election coffer? What about Snapple, I heard somewhere that they donate Republican. Regardless the politicians owe more favors because the must collect from more sources.

        The rich people still give lots of money, and still have disproportionate political influence, but now it is filtered through a dozen different "Friends of..." and "Citizens for ..." groups. If campaign reforms worked at all the way they were intended, why have the candidates become ever less trustworthy and inspiring?
  • by SnoopJeDi ( 859765 ) <> on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:29PM (#21140973)
    He's being sponsored to cover the election. He's not a candidate promoting a product, just a man who really enjoys Doritos in his spare time.
    • by AmericanInKiev ( 453362 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:33PM (#21141507) Homepage
      Say Gulliani has been paid by the Mexican government (for consulting on crime) and he is using his wealth to fund his campaign - is that Illegal because it amounts to foreign support for political candidates?

      Apparently Stephen earns the money he makes by appearing as "Talent" on a show which sells advertising. The shows sponsors are paying him for attracting viewer - rather than advancing a political agenda. I don't know that Stephen's "Campaign" is directly funded by the people who pay him to do his job.
  • by Brian Lewis ( 1011579 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:30PM (#21140977) Homepage
    If a comedian wins president with a fake campaign and gets "in trouble", I'm moving to Canada.
  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:30PM (#21140983)
    Well? Is it? They might not donate money but they donate 24/7 spectrum to the Reps propaganda, which has to be worth quite a lot ...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by advs89 ( 921250 ) *
      Oh yeah, and you don't think CNN and MSNBC is doing the same thing with the "Dems"??? Wake Up!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        No, they really aren't. If they were they would have actually opposed the Iraq War like they should have.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ScentCone ( 795499 )
          No, they really aren't. If they were they would have actually opposed the Iraq War like they should have.

          You're confused. The lefter-leaning networks have always backed the lefter-leaning candidates and their more centrest party-mates. They still do. That's not exactly surprising.

          What seems to be slipping past you is the large number of Democrat politicians that did support going after Saddam's regime, and which today - right now - if asked about yanking troops out of a country that is being actively
  • He Knows This (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bazald ( 886779 ) <> on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:31PM (#21140987) Homepage
    He pretty much said so on the show. He joked that Doritos couldn't fund the campaign directly, so he would have to find some other excuse to accept their money. He has said in an interview (off his show) that he doesn't want to be President, he just wants to run for it. He is a smart guy, and he is backed by smart lawyers. I'm sure he'll stop before he crosses the line from legal to illegal.
    • Re:He Knows This (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <> on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:41PM (#21141091) Homepage Journal

      I may well vote for him. Unless Ron Paul wins the Republican primary, which I consider doubtful, I will likely vote for Stephen Colbert. People who actually want to be president generally shouldn't be allowed to be.

      • Re:He Knows This (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:32PM (#21141499) Homepage
        It's really bizarre. I keep hearing from all these people that they want Ron Paul to win, but they think nobody is going to vote for him. Well, damnit, if you're a Republican, vote for him! And if he gets the nomination, vote for him!
    • Re:He Knows This (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:02PM (#21141285)
      Colbert is just doing openly what every other candidate does behind the curtain.

      You don't even become a viable candidate in this country unless you have been vetted and supported by prominent corporations and aristocrats. There's a reason all of the candidates are essentially the same on both sides of the aisle and why the new boss is almost always the same as the old boss. It's because they're only made viable by the same real "bosses" every time.
  • by kosanovich ( 678657 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:32PM (#21141003)
    The other night Colbert talked specifically about this. He said that under election law he can use the corporate sponsorship money to produce the Colbert Report but he can't use it for his campaign. So he took the opportunity to satirize the law and point out that as Colbert the show host he is saying "eat the chips!" but as Colbert the presidential hopeful he is simply saying that he enjoys a nice doritos chip.

    In any case he and his show lawyers aren't as stupid as they pretend to be and they will make sure they stay on the right side of the law in case this does get taken seriously.
  • We are lucky...... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by budword ( 680846 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:32PM (#21141007)
    We are lucky we live in the United States of America. We have a Constitution that guarantees that congress can make no law "abridging the freedom of speech". Errr....wait.....ummmmm. Well, I mean... except POLITICAL speech. I'm sure when they wrote the 1st amendment they didn't really mean political speech. I wonder why the supreme court just ignores this ?
  • by gQuigs ( 913879 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:34PM (#21141023) Homepage
    Did you watch the episode where he clearly differentiated between himself as the host and the candidate. He even drew a line in the middle of the screen :). He will not cross said line.
    • So there's two 'Stephen Colbert' characters: 'Stephen Colbert' the host of the Colbert Report, and 'Stephen Colbert' the presidential candidate? And they're played by Stephen Colbert and Stephen Colbert respectively?

  • by PetriBORG ( 518266 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:34PM (#21141027) Homepage
    I honestly hope Colbert wins in SC. The only better guy for president would be Jon Stewart!. Either of them would spank those Dem/Rep around in a debate until they cried.
    Politics in the US is outright pathetic. That may sound crass - but really, where is the candidate that doesn't have a stick up his ass and his hand in the cookie jar.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Colin Smith ( 2679 )

      Politics in the US is outright pathetic. That may sound crass - but really, where is the candidate that doesn't have a stick up his ass and his hand in the cookie jar.
      Here []

      • Heh.
        Already well aware of him, I'm not a registered republican so I can vote for him in the primary, but if he makes it to the main election he'll get mine. Of course thats a snowballs chance in hell.
        What would be interesting is if candidates had to to answer a series of questions to honestly indicate where on they really fell, something like the political compass test. []
    • by Fear the Clam ( 230933 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:58PM (#21141241)
      a stick up his ass and his hand in the cookie jar

      Your fetishes interest me. I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
    • Getting into debates (Score:5, Informative)

      by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @03:23PM (#21141881) Journal
      I honestly hope Colbert wins in SC. The only better guy for president would be Jon Stewart!. Either of them would spank those Dem/Rep around in a debate until they cried.

      Heh, I'd love to watch this as well. I was curious about what the requirements were to get into the debates, so I did a little googling. I can't find the criteria for the 2008 Presidential election (which are presumably pretty different, considering a number of the candidates in the debate don't meet the criteria below), but for curiosity's sake here's the criteria used in the the 2004 election debates: []

      * Evidence of Constitutional Eligibility: yup, Colbert's >35 years old and is a natural born citizen (born in DC, actually)

      * Evidence of Ballot Access: he needs to get on enough state ballots to be able to theoretically win the election (270 electoral votes). I'm not familiar with the requirements for each state, but I imagine this could be tricky.

      * Indicators of Electoral Support: He needs to poll at least 15% nationally. He's already polling ahead of Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich. He also got 13% in polls which pitted him against Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani [].
  • yeah but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by microcars ( 708223 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:37PM (#21141043) Homepage
    right now it is all "speculation" about his rather obvious "sponsorship" by DORITOS.

    But what if they are not actually doing anything except "playing along" and agreeing to let him "pretend" to have a corporate sponsor?

    And if they are indeed paying "something", what if they are paying it to THE COLBERT REPORT?

    Why can't the media be this interested in real shenanigans going on in politics?

    is it because "real" politics does not have TASTY DORITOS? They are delicious.
  • Guantanamo? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:38PM (#21141057)
    I'm in Kaffiristan so I don't know how things work in the USA. But is possible that he might be sent to Guantanamo Bay for this?

    In my country someone made a joke about running against our President and he was sent the toxic waste mines. We love our President and do not want his good name to be besmirched by hoodlums. From what I can tell Mr Colbert has made many jokes about your President yet he has evaded the Secret Police.

    Do such things happen in America now too? I don't know much about your country. I do know from watching American TV that crime is very bad there and people hire vigilantes like Robert McCall to scare off drug dealers who are menacing them. Here in our country we have no crime, since undesirables are worked to death in the mines. Why doesn't your President hire more policemen using aid money from the decadent imperialist west?

    • Is your name-a Borat? No wait, that's Kazakhstan. But bet you have a house-cow all the same.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Ahh, the difference is that in your case you love your President. In our country, the office of President is reserved for the most embarrassing individual we can find to distract the rest of the world while various 3 letter organizations actually do the dirty work. Mr. Colbert would fit the bill perfectly, and as the "Doritos President of the United States" he would lead us into a new era of corporations openly buying political favors, instead of the current methods of indirectly purchasing political favo
  • We know where his money came from.
    Where is Hillary getting all that dough?
    Where is twit romney getting all that dough?
    Where is cross-dresser Judy Guiliani getting all that dough?

    obviously not from "People".

    Those "People" who support the republican candidates usually can't afford to feed their own family.

    Corporations and the military industrial complex get republicans and hillaries elected.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:47PM (#21141153) []

    Pat Paulsen ran many times for President and even got some write-in votes. It's conceivable that Colbert could get a lot of protest votes.

    I don't know the law well but there are some places where write in votes count. If that were the case here, Colbert could win without being on the ballot. That would be really funny. If you're not on the ballot, how can you be charged with campaign violations?

    (Yes, I know about the Electoral College etc. etc.)
  • If he wins, then it does not matter what illegal actions he has taken to win. The last two elections have established this sufficiently in legal precedence.
  • I thought taking money from corporate sources was okay, big oil, defense contractors, etc, it's taking money from average Americans that's illegal? If he's taking money from Doritos all that will happen is instead of former oil men running the EPA we'll get junk food reps running the FDA.
  • by MSTCrow5429 ( 642744 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:58PM (#21141243)
    How can it be criminal to run for a position for which every previous holder has to some degree or another, with cognizance, committed violence against the US Constitution?
  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:01PM (#21141265)
    What I really want to see him do is show up for a debate in South Carolina with so many sponsor patches on his dress suit that he looks like he races in NASCAR. He should invite the other candidates to do the same.
  • 1.000.000? (Score:5, Informative)

    by xirtap ( 955611 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:24PM (#21141419)
    There is a big difference between 1,000,000 people and 1,000,000 Americans.
  • Protest Vote (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OldSoldier ( 168889 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:36PM (#21141529)
    When I first heard of Colbert's run I thought it was a brilliant way to stage a protest vote. I believe (like apparently Steward and Colbert do) that the majority of Americans are much more in the reasonable middle than either the Democrats or the Republicans. If he were to get a "significant" vote in both the Democratic Primary AND the Republican Primary in South Carolina then hopefully the parties will realize how far on the fringe they BOTH are.

    Unfortunately, even if Colbert is successful at this I do not believe the Dems or the Repubs(?) will have any sort of awakening. Regardless though... this seems to be a protest vote. Is there any sort of legal president for protest votes? If so, is it possible that protest votes may run afoul of the FEC?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jellie ( 949898 )
      My impression is that Stewart and Colbert are slightly liberal (both are self-described Democrats; Stewart says he is probably "more of a socialist or an independent" [] and Colbert "admits to being a Democrat" [].) I don't think they necessarily believe that the majority of Americans are moderates, but rather that the majority is more intelligent than the politicians make them out to be. That is, they want politicians to be direct and honest, and not hide behind stupid photo ops or make blatant lies. I think the
  • by stephdau ( 454502 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:41PM (#21141567) Homepage
    Coluche (1944-1986), a cult French Comedian, tried to pull this off in 1980, for the 1981 French presidential elections. Everybody started to get freaked out when he actually showed up with 16% of intended votes in the polls... []
  • Truthiness (Score:5, Funny)

    by naoursla ( 99850 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:45PM (#21141607) Homepage Journal
    My gut tells me it is not illegal.
  • So (Score:3, Funny)

    by kurtis25 ( 909650 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @06:33PM (#21143449)
    So Might Hillary's! it's funny cause it's true

Forty two.