When it comes to super PACs, it’s getting hard to tell the difference between reality and a Comedy Central bit. Stephen Colbert made an ongoing gag last month out of lampooning the rules barring coordination between outside groups and campaigns. When he announced a plan to run for president, he made a big show of handing off his super PAC to his fellow Comedy Central host Jon Stewart. Stewart promised not to coordinate with Colbert — giving the camera a wink and a nod. But it was no joke last week when President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney cleared their top aides to raise cash for the super PACs supporting their campaign.
Meanwhile, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, whose family has pumped $11 million into the super PAC boosting Newt Gingrich’s campaign, sat in on a meeting of the campaign’s national finance committee at one of his Las Vegas hotels this month. He also met privately with both Gingrich and Romney. And Rick Santorum took the podium at the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend after a warm introduction from his friend Foster Friess, a Wyoming multimillionaire who’s given hundreds of thousands of dollars to two super PACs credited with Santorum’s surge.
Friess has become part of Santorum’s campaign inner circle, traveling with the candidate on the trail and participating in sensitive conversations about campaign advertising. Santorum told reporters last week that Friess is “someone who I talk to, who gives me plenty of advice on how I say it and what I say.”