Stephen Colbert smiles while taping the "The Colbert Report" with United States President Barack Obama in Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2014. 
Photo by Andrew Harrer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

Bush campaign raffling off ticket to Colbert debut

NEW YORK — Jeb Bush isn’t just going to be a guest on Stephen Colbert’s late-night debut on CBS. He’s turned it into a fundraising opportunity.

Bush has sent a letter to potential supporters, offering a “VIP ticket” to the taping of Colbert’s first show on Sept. 8, in a renovated Ed Sullivan Theatre in Manhattan. The winner also gets an all-expenses paid trip to New York for the event. Bush asks for a $3 donation to enter.

“Running for president can be a taxing and grueling job, but it also presents you with some truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunities,” Bush wrote. “Friend, I want to share one of those opportunities with you.”

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The raffle puts CBS in an awkward spot, seeming to take part in a presidential candidate’s attempt to raise money, and the network distanced itself from the effort.

“All guests on the show are provided audience tickets for their own use,” said Chris Ender, CBS Entertainment spokesman. “However, this promotion is not a coordinated tie-in between the show and the political campaign.”

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Colbert’s representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Political financing was a topic of his comedy while on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.” He attempted a mock presidential run in 2008, and parodied campaign finance laws by setting up his own political action committee, “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.”

His debut as David Letterman’s replacement is highly anticipated, and Bush will be joined by George Clooney as an opening night guest.

Ender would not comment on CBS’ policy for use of “Late Show” tickets, which are free to the public.

NBC’s “Tonight” show with Jimmy Fallon similarly offers fans tickets for free, and announces online when they are available. Fans are required to identify themselves when they are sent tickets and then present identification when they show up the day of the taping, designed to ensure that the tickets are not sold to anyone else and that the recipient is at least 16 years old.

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Bush’s fundraising letter describes the opportunity to see Colbert’s debut as “something you’ll be talking about 20 years from now.”

A Bush campaign spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a request for comment. It’s not clear how many people received the solicitation or how many people have entered.

Fundraising, Jeb Bush and Stephen Colbert

Bush campaign raffling off ticket to Colbert debut