Now that the election is over, with billions upon billions of dollars spent, you might be asking yourself: What happens to all the leftover cash? Well, the endgame is just as obscene and corrupt as the rest of it.
In the final chapter of his civics lesson on Super PACs, which has been an invaluable education for the public in understanding how dark money works within the electoral process — not to mention a brilliant piece of political performance art — Stephen Colbert tried to appease his donors and pin the epic amount of money wasted on Jon Stewart. Together, they committed Ham Rove-icide and then Colbert sat down with his attorney, Trevor Potter, to lay out all of the nasty details of wrapping up Colbert Super PAC.
In part one, the fear was palpable as Colbert worried about which donors might have it in for him, and there was even a mysterious can-light that fell from the ceiling, which, had it clocked a certain someone on the noggin, well, it could have left Colbert pushin’ up daisies…
“Listen, fellas…I didn’t waste your money! Running a Super PAC is expensive, I mean, we had legitimate costs, we had handling costs and we had legal fees, and the biggest expense, almost $90,000 of it was for the commercials the Super PAC ran while I was kinda, sorta, running for president of South Carolina. I wasn’t even in charge of the Super PAC then! Jon Stewart was! This is the guy you want – not me!”
WATCH Part One (story continues below):
In part two is where we see the insanely obscene fuckery known as loopholes through which Super PACs are allowed to hurl themselves through with absolutely no oversight and no accountability whatsoever:
COLBERT: Trevor, I’m scared. I’ve got a Super PAC and a 501c4 called Colbert Super PAC SHH, and I took money from some scary guys, and I just want out of the game, I want out of the Super PAC business. Can I close down my Super PAC?
POTTER: Sure, you can do that.
COLBERT: OK, but I’ve got a lot of money in there – almost $800,000 dollars. I’d like to keep that money. What can I do with it?
POTTER: Well, you can use it for any legal purpose; you can even writer yourself a check for that whole amount.
COLBERT: I like that.
POTTER: The only problem is that everyone will know because you’ll report that on the FEC report for the Super PAC.
COLBERT: But that’s no fun at all. The whole point of having a Super PAC is secret money, using it in any way you want to, Trevor! Is there any way, and I know this is crazy, these might be the mad ramblings of a syphilitic brain, but hear me out. Can I somehow give the money to myself and thereby hide it forever from all eyes and use it in the way that I wish?
POTTER: Actually, you can.
COLBERT: I knew it! OK, what do we have to do? What do we gotta go?
POTTER: You know your 501c4…
COLBERT: Colbert Super PAC SHH, yeah…
POTTER: It’s the secret money…so what we want to do then is have you transfer the money from your Super PAC over to your 501c4, and what we’ll do is what the tax lawyers call an “agency letter,” which simply means you write a letter that tells the c4 exactly what to do with the money. And if you do that, the IRS doesn’t consider it to have been the c4’s money and it doesn’t end up on the tax return.
COLBERT: It goes from my Super PAC into my 501c4?
POTTER: Right. Now since everyone knows the name of your c4, we thought it would be better if we created a whole new, anonymous c4 so that the first one transfers the money to the second one, and the second one, which you will also run, then disperses it. That way we’re sure nobody can trace it.
COLBERT: So, I write a check from my Super PAC, to my 501c4, to my second, secret 501c4, and because I sent a letter along the way that said ‘here’s what I want you two guys to do with it,’ neither I nor me nor me is responsible for what happens with the money?
POTTER: That’s right.
COLBERT: I love America!
Just to be clear on this, because it sounded so damn familiar, I looked up the definition of money laundering:
Money laundering often occurs in three steps: first, cash is introduced into the financial system by some means (“placement”), the second involves carrying out complex financial transactions in order to camouflage the illegal source (“layering”), and the final step entails acquiring wealth generated from the transactions of the illicit funds (“integration”). Some of these steps may be omitted, depending on the circumstances; for example, non-cash proceeds that are already in the financial system would have no need for placement.
Sounds about right, and Colbert’s visual aid to illustrate the process cemented it. But really, all you had to do was read the press release from Colbert Super PAC:
Dear Super Loved Ones,
I write this letter with a heavy heart and elevated cholesterol. Earlier today, our advisor and chief strategist, Ham Rove, passed away. Authorities believe he repeatedly tripped and fell onto a knife several dozen times. Later some dogs ate him. It was all quite tragic.
When it comes to describing how important Ham Rove was to Colbert Super PAC, I find myself at a loss for unsubpoenaed words. Ham Rove did everything for this organization, particularly any of the things that an angry donor or federal official might want answers to.
Due to Ham Rove’s timely passing, I am announcing that Colbert Super PAC is shutting down effective immediately. During this time of mourning, we ask that you respect our privacy, and more importantly, the privacy of our money. It wishes to stay out of the public eye, so please don’t go trying to find it. Rest assured, you won’t. We have a really good lawyer.
I am a man of faith. I believe that Ham Rove in a better place now… and so is the money. I hope you have faith as well, because that’s all you’re ever going to know for sure.
Don’t stop bereaving,
Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow (defunct)
RIP, Colbert Super PAC, we hardly knew ye…
But every little bit of you was ridiculously and shamefully legal and within the letter of the law.
God Bless America.
WATCH Part Two: