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Stephen Colbert's Square-Powered Super PAC

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, July 5 2011

When Stephen Colbert walked out of a Federal Elections Commission meeting where the FEC gave him permission to form a "super PAC" and promote it on his show, he had a credit card swiper on hand, ready to collect donations — a Square, the gadget cooked up by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, according to Getty photos of the event picked up by examiner.com.

National Journal has another angle on Colbert, iPad in hand, here.

The gadget makes mobile devices capable processing credit card transactions by attaching a scanner to an iPad, iPhone, or Android phone. The "super PAC" is a type of political action committee that have virtually no limits on the amount of money they can raise and spend, and Colbert was looking for an FEC ruling that would pave the way for him to promote the PAC on his show on Viacom's Comedy Central.

The Washington Post found a delicate way to phrase this particular rub: "Any work on behalf of the super PAC in connection with the show could be considered an in-kind contribution from Viacom, which would have to report such spending to the FEC."

To report on political activites, media outlets get press exemption from this rule — they're covering news, not contributing exposure. The Wall Street Journal's Katie Glueck and Brody Mullins go into detail on the particulars of the commission's ruling, which has a few ins and outs as to what Colbert can and cannot do on his show. The wonkily minded can, as with every FEC hearing, listen to a recording of the commissioners going back and forth with Colbert.