Jeb Bush is appearing on the very first Late Night With Stephen Colbert on CBS, and he’s trying to make it into a fundraising event. The campaign’s unsanctioned raffle has put the television network in a difficult position, but it’s insisting that it is not endorsing Bush.
The raffle works like this.
According to People Magazine, participants “donate” three dollars to the Bush campaign to enter the contest. The lucky winner will then receive an all-expense-paid trip to New York City to see the debut of Stephen Colbert’s show on September 8, which will feature George Clooney and Jeb Bush at the newly renovated Ed Sullivan theater.
Bush sent a letter to his supporters promoting the raffle, which was obtained and published by the AP.
“Running for president can be a taxing and grueling job, but it also presents you with some truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Friend, I want to share one of those opportunities with you.”
The contest puts CBS in a tough spot according to MLive, because it appears that they’re raising money for and endorsing a political candidate.
CBS spokesman Chris Ender made a statement to confirm they were not coordinating with the campaign.
“All guests on the show are provided audience tickets for their own use. However, this promotion is not a coordinated tie-in between the show and the political campaign.”
Jeb Bush is promoting his audience seats as “VIP tickets,” but the tickets to the Late Night Show are generally free.
Ender didn’t comment more on CBS’s ticket policy. NBC’s Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon also gives away tickets for free. However, they require audience members to give identification both when signing up to see the show and when they arrive in the studio.
The purpose is to prevent people from selling the tickets off. If CBS’s policies are the same, the Jeb Bush campaign might be crossing a line by accepting “donations” in exchange for the possibility of receiving tickets.
Still, as the New York Daily News points out, it’s common practice for political hopefuls to give away their guest appearance tickets to “close friends,” who could also give the candidate money.
Stephen Colbert has not commented on the unsanctioned fundraiser. In the days of the Colbert Report, the contest would most likely be an irresistible opportunity for a joke about money in politics. Perhaps luckily for Jeb Bush, it’s now the Late Night With Stephen Colbert show, and it’s hard to know if the comedian will still be as opportunistic.
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