Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
South Carolina election officials say they are $500,000 short of the $1.5 million they need to hold the first-in-the-South Republican presidential primary early next year. Stephen Colbert says he has the answer.
The Comedy Central star is offering to make up the difference with cash raised by his super PAC – if the state agrees to rename the nominating contest "The Colbert Super PAC South Carolina Republican Primary" and if state residents support his bid to add a non-binding referendum about "corporate personhood" on the ballot that asks voters whether "corporations are people" or "only people are people."
The funding gap exists, in part, because state Republicans have refused to pony up anything above the $180,000 in candidate filing fees they are required to contribute. As a result, election officials say the state may need to run a deficit to hold the nominating contest.
Colbert laid out his offer in an op-ed in The (Columbia) State newspaper, in which he recounted his previous attempts to convince Republicans to take his money. It’s a little difficult to tell what parts are jokes and what parts aren’t (because let’s be honest, this whole thing is quite absurd) but state Republicans did confirm to the Associated Press that they at least entertained the idea of taking a check from Colbert to cover the cost of the primary.
Those talks fell through, as did a similar push with state Democrats to get the referendum on the ballot. So Colbert is taking his case to the people.
"The counties need the money, and Colbert Super PAC wants to give it to you; call it a Christmas Miracle," he wrote in his Thursday op-ed. "I’ve already filled out the check, and to prove it’s no joke, I’ve written ‘No Joke’ in the memo line. I’m going to be home in South Carolina over the holidays, so just give me a call. Both state parties have my contact info."
It’s not exactly clear whether such a subsidized primary would even be legal, but we suppose that’s at least part of the point given Colbert has been using his super PAC to draw attention to election laws that critics say give corporations and political action committees too much power.