Stephen Colbert has publicly been fighting for a “non-binding referendum question” on the South Carolina primary ballot, but this week he stepped up his efforts, writing an editorial in a South Carolina paper to show just what lengths the state’s Republican Party would go to for Colbert’s large cash donation.
In the middle of a dispute over who would pay for the state’s influential presidential primary (the taxpayers or the political parties themselves), the satirical TV pundit offered to cover the Republican Party’s obligations to the counties with funds from his Super PAC, in exchange for naming rights to the primary. Colbert also asked that a non-binding, advisory issue be placed on the ballot concerning a recent Supreme Court case and Mitt Romney‘s infamous statement that “corporations are people.” The referendum would read:
In order to address the issue of Corporate Personhood, the enfranchised People of the Sovereign State of South Carolina declare that:
( ) Corporations are people.
( ) Only people are people.
But the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that such non-binding questions must not appear on any ballot, and also declared that the counties must pay for the primary.
In a guest editorial in South Carolina’s The State newspaper, Colbert writes what happened next:
The S.C. Republican Party no longer needed my $400,000, but being Southern gentlemen, they graciously offered to still want it. They would sell me the naming rights, if instead of giving my cash to the counties, I handed it directly to the party. I asked in return that they petition the court to get the referendum back on the ballot. They said no. I offered less money, $200,000, since I was getting only half of our original agreement. They said no.
Only after Colbert made a similar offer to the state Democratic party did the Republicans withdraw their consideration, saying they were “concerned about the sanctity of the primary”.
Colbert commented, “If nothing else good comes from this, we have at least narrowed down the exact value of sanctity — somewhere between $200,000 and $400,000.”