Abortion Ban Campaign Donor Not Required To Be Revealed

Armen Hareyan's picture

Abortion Ban Campaign

A South Dakota judge on Monday ruled that state Rep. Roger Hunt (R)should not be required to identify the person who gave $750,000 toHunt's corporation, Promising Future, which contributed to a campaignto uphold a state law (HB 1215) that would have banned abortion in the state except to save a woman's life, the AP/Sioux City Journal reports (Kafka, AP/Sioux City Journal, 8/14).

The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families successfully blocked the July 1, 2006, enactment of the law by gathering enough signaturesto put the issue on the November 2006 ballot, and state voters lastNovember rejected the measure by a 55% to 45% margin. Hunt in September2006 established Promising Future, and the corporation later made threeseparate contributions of $250,000 each to VoteYesForLife.com, which campaigned to uphold the ban.

SouthDakota Attorney General Larry Long (R) earlier this year filed a civilcomplaint that asked a judge to decide whether Hunt should be requiredto disclose the name of the donor. Under South Dakota law, a ballotquestion committee consists of two or more people who raise money toinfluence a ballot issue, and Long asked a judge to decide whetherPromising Future meets the definition of such a committee (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 1/3).


Ruling, Reaction

Minnehaha County, S.D., Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Caldwell on Mondaysaid Hunt and Promising Future were not a ballot question committee andwere not obliged to disclose the identity of the donor. "Giving acontribution does not make a corporation a ballot question committee,"she wrote. She also wrote that even if Hunt created Promising Future toprotect the identity of the anonymous donor, it does not mean heviolated state campaign finance laws at the time. "The ballotcommittee, in this case VoteYesForLife, disclosed the corporatecontributor in its finance report," Caldwell said. "However, thecorporation making the contribution was not required to disclose everyshareholder of the corporation under the laws in place in 2006," sheadded.

Secretary of State Chris Nelson (R) said he was"surprised" by the ruling, adding that he hoped to talk with Long onTuesday about the possibility of an appeal. Hunt said he feltvindicated by the decision. "Last year we were operating under acertain set of rules, and those rules have now been repealed," he said,adding, "I feel that I had every right to operate under whatever thecurrent law was and that's what I was doing in 2006."

Revised Campaign Finance Law

The state Legislature earlier this year passed a law that prohibitsanonymous political contributions by individuals, organizations,candidates, political committees and political parties, according tothe AP/Journal. The law requires that such contributionsbe donated to not-for-profit organizations. It also bars futureanonymous donations and aims to eliminate any loopholes by clearlydefining a ballot question committee. In addition, Nelson said the lawrequires a ballot question committee that receives a contribution fromorganizations with up to 20 members or shareholders to disclose donorsif those donors own more than 10% of the organization. Hunt voted forthe new legislation, the AP/Journal reports (AP/Sioux City Journal, 8/14).


Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork\t\t\t\t\t\t\t

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