April 12, 2012

Phony Firewall Between Romney And His Super PAC Mocked By Former Employer, “The Colbert-Stewart Wall Is Higher & Stronger”

Phony Firewall Between Romney And His Super PAC Mocked By Former Employer, "The Colbert-Stewart Wall Is Higher & Stronger"
Stephen Colbert gave his Super PAC to Jon Stewart to mock the current state of campaign finance laws, which technically prohibit coordinate between Super PACs and candidates, but lack any enforcement mechanism.

“Thanks to Citizens United, my money can talk for me!” Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert has probably done more to expose and explain America’s ridiculous post-Citizens United campaign finance laws than anyone else in the media. Last year, he erected his own Super PAC, called “Americans For A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow,” using it to shamelessly beg for corporate donations while launching intentionally misleading campaign ads. The act, which landedColbert a Peabody last week, is even striking a cord with a law firm that once employed Romney’s top Super PAC operative.

Colbert set out to highlight the fact that although Super PACs are legally prohibited from coordinating with any candidate campaign, every major campaign maintains a tight relationship with their respective Super PACs. For example, Restore Our Future, Mitt Romney’s Super PAC, is run by Carl Forti, Larry McCarthy, and Charles Spies, three Republican consultants previously affiliated with the Romney for President campaign. To demonstrate this loophole, Colbert ceremoniously handed off his Super PAC to fellow Comedy Central host Jon Stewart. Although Colbert announced his bid for the presidency, he continued talking on the phone and openly communicating his plans to Stewart and their shared election attorney, Trevor Potter.

Romney Super PAC director Charles Spies previously worked at McKenna, Long & Aldridge, a law/lobbying firm in Washington D.C. In a recently released video, McKenna, Long & Aldridge’s Stefan C. Passantino, while engaged in a panel discussion with former RNC chair Michael Steele and former DNC chair Howard Dean, noted that his former partner, Spies, is married to the Romney for President finance chair. Remarking on the situation, Passantino laughed at the legal limits between candidates and their Super PACs, and added that the Colbert-Stewart legal firewall is “actually higher and stronger than the Romney wall”:

PASSANTINO: One could speculate on that, that for example Romney’s Super PAC is run by an individual named Charlie Spies, who used to work here, and his wife happens to be Lisa Spies, who is Romney’s finance chair. So I suspect there might be some opportunity for conversation […] The Colbert-Stewart wall is actually higher and stronger than the Romney wall is.

Watch it:

It’s easy to laugh at Colbert poking fun at the broken campaign system. It’s a sad state of affairs, however, when Colbert’s Super PAC might have better ethical standards than an actual presidential campaign.

Other campaigns maintain close ties to friendly Super PACs. Newt Gingrich’s Super PAC is run by his former employees. President Obama’s Super PAC is run by his former White House deputy press secretary.