COLUMBIA, S.C. — Comedian Stephen Colbert is offering to pay half a million dollars to help subsidize South Carolina’s first-in-the-South GOP presidential primary, as state officials struggle to pay for it, but there’s doubt whether it would even be legal.

The Charleston native wrote in an op-ed Thursday in The State newspaper in Columbia that Colbert Super PAC – a type of political action committee that allows him to raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions and individuals – will bridge the gap after state Republicans refused to contribute anything above $180,000 collected in candidates’ filing fees.

The state Election Commission, which administers South Carolina’s voting, has said it has $1 million on hand for the primary but is short of the total $1.5 million price tag. Spokesman Chris Whitmire says the Commission has notified budget officials the state may need to seek permission to run a deficit to fund the primary.

Colbert wrote that he offered to make up that $500,000 funding gap after state Republicans ultimately turned down his proposal to pay them $400,000 if they’d name the contest after him. Party officials have confirmed meeting with Colbert earlier this year to discuss a deal that would have renamed the balloting “The Colbert Super PAC South Carolina Republican Primary” in exchange for a check from the comedian.

Colbert, who plays a mock conservative pundit on his TV show “The Colbert Report,” says he also wanted to put a question about “corporate personhood” on the January ballot. He seized on the issue after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling eased restrictions on corporate campaign spending.

Ultimately rebuffed by the GOP, Colbert says he started working with Democrats to get the issue on the ballot, but state Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian said Thursday that effort also fell through.

State GOP executive director Matt Moore said party officials were skeptical of Colbert from the beginning but entertained his early communications before turning him down.

Sheen’s ex-wife wants to limit court coverage

ASPEN, Colo. – Attorneys for Charlie Sheen’s ex-wife want to stop what they expect to be a media frenzy when she appears in court on drug and assault charges.

Attorneys asked a judge to deny a live Internet feed from the courtroom requested by TMZ Productions when Brooke Mueller appears on Jan. 23.

The 34-year-old Mueller faces a felony charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and a misdemeanor assault charge. She was arrested Dec. 3 after a woman reported being assaulted at a nightclub.

Sheen and Mueller divorced earlier this year after Sheen was arrested on suspicion of assaulting her in 2009.

McCready’s mom wants grandson back

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The mother of country singer Mindy McCready wants her grandson back.

Gayle Inge and her husband, Michael Inge, said Thursday in a news release that their 5-year-old grandson Zander should be returned to them in Florida.

Under Florida law, Inge is Zander’s legal guardian. In November, McCready took the boy out of Florida without the permission of Florida’s courts. The singer and her son were found in Arkansas. McCready told The Associated Press that she took the boy because she feared he was being abused at her mother’s home.

‘Idol’ star, friend in fight

HELSINKI – Finnish police say they detained Adam Lambert after he assaulted people who tried to break up a fight between the former “American Idol” star and his boyfriend in downtown Helsinki.

Detective Superintendent Petri Juvonen said the fight spread from a popular gay bar early Thursday into the street where Lambert was suspected of hitting two people who tried to break it up.

Juvonen said that Lambert’s boyfriend, “Finnish Big Brother” star Sauli Koskinen, also was held for questioning. He said no one was seriously hurt.