NEW YORK >> Stephen Colbert’s sway in the U.S. presidential election might be a joke, but he’s got some real financial muscle.
The comedian disclosed Tuesday that his Americans for a Better Tomorrow "super" political action committee has raised a staggering $1.02 million. PACs were required to submit their financial reports to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday.
In a letter to the commission, Colbert was quoted as saying, "How you like me now, FEC?"
Colbert raised the money by asking for donations from viewers of "The Colbert Report." He has used the PAC to highlight what he considers the absurdity of campaign finance law and, in particular, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations and unions to raise limitless money to run campaign ads.
"We raised it on my show and used it to materially influence the elections — in full accordance with the law," Colbert said in a press release. "It’s the way our founding fathers would have wanted it, if they had founded corporations instead of just a country."
When Colbert earlier flirted with running for president, he legally transferred control of his PAC to Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show," as the so-called super PACs are supposed to remain independent of the candidates. On Monday’s "The Colbert Report," he elaborately hunted down Stewart to regain his PAC presidency.
Colbert said Tuesday that the PAC is considering yet another name change to: John Colbert Cougar Super MellenPAC.
On "The Report," Colbert has portrayed every turn of the screw in the life of a political action committee, going through the law with his attorney, Trevor Potter, former Federal Election Commission chairman.
Thus far, his PAC has created a handful of television ads, including an over-the-top negative ad against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and an anti-players ad during the NBA lockout.
Tuesday’s FEC filing also revealed the donors who gave more than $200 to Colbert’s PAC. Among them are Gavin Newsom, lieutenant governor of California (who gave $500), Bradley Whitford of the "The West Wing" ($250) and "Hot in Cleveland" star Laura Sangiacomo ($250).
Colbert is yet to say what else he intends to do with the money.