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University of Utah student starts Colbert-like super PAC

Published May 5, 2012 8:43 pm

Politics • U. student emulates TV show host Stephen Colbert.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A University of Utah student just old enough to vote has found an unusual way to dip his toe into the world of politics. Josh Mines started his own super PAC.

This week, the Federal Election Commission accepted the paperwork creating Utes for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow and if that name sounds familiar, it should.

It's a playoff of comedian Stephen Colbert's super political action committee, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, the cornerstone of his long-running spoof on the world of campaign finance.

A few weeks back, Colbert sold 1,000 "super fun packs" to college students for $99 each, which included directions on how to set up their own super PACs.

"College is a place where young people can find out who they really are," Colbert says on his website. "What better way to do that than to let them form groups that allow unlimited corporate, union and individual donations? Trust me, they'll find out what they stand for shortly after the cash starts rolling in."

The Colbert Report says the student-created super PACs "while completely unaffiliated with Stephen Colbert, will serve as his personal attack dogs."

If that's the case, he has at least six attack dogs, including Students for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow and, at least one attack cat, the California-based Cats for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.

Mines, 18, is a faithful Colbert viewer, who feels that the comedian's super PAC bits are not only funny but important and it was something he wanted to be a part of, though he plans to leave the comedy to the professionals.

"I feel like I want to carry what he is doing on a national scale and focus it more locally," said Mines, of Morgan. "I don't want it to be for show and just be a gimmick thing. I want to really see if we can make a difference with it."

He envisions turning his super PAC into a grass-roots group that supports candidates who fight for campaign finance restrictions and opposes those who do not. He's still working on how to get there, but his plan is to start with social media creating the Twitter account @UtesSuperPac and a Facebook account under his PAC's full name.

And he has a firm goal.

"In the end, I would like my super PAC to be illegal. I would like my super PAC to be unconstitutional, but until that point you have to fight fire with fire," he said.

He set up a bank account just off of the U. campus and says he is close to being able to accept cash. Colbert has plenty of that. His PAC had $794,000 in available cash at the end of March.

This is Mines' first attempt at political involvement, though he was a student body officer at Morgan High School last year. He's looking forward to casting his first votes in November.

His PAC isn't the University of Utah's only tie to Colbert's Peabody-winning comedy.

U. alum Matt Sanderson and Kirk Jowers, the director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, have done legal work for the Colbert super PAC though Trevor Potter, their colleague at the firm Caplin & Drysdal and the comedian's on-air legal adviser.

And U. student Whitney Benns, who now works at the Hinckley Institute, will start an internship with The Colbert Report this summer, a spot she received because of Jowers' ties to the super PAC.

mcanham@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mattcanham