Comedian Stephen Colbert won approval from the Federal Election Commission to start a political organization that he plans to use to promote or oppose candidates in the 2012 election.

Mr. Colbert also prompted the agency to make a decision that could have implications, though in narrow circumstances, for politicians and others wishing to influence elections.

In a 5-1 vote, the agency ruled that Mr. Colbert’s staff at Comedy Central can help his political organization produce campaign ads but only if the ads air as part of his comedy program.

Groups that want tougher campaign-finance laws were happy that the agency banned candidates from asking donors for large contributions to outside organizations. “To rule any other way would have been blatantly illegal and would have opened a backdoor avenue for yet another new flood of money in our elections,” said Lisa Gilbert, a spokeswoman for Public Citizen, which wants to tighten campaign-finance limits.

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