Determining Whether Identity Of Abortion Ban Campaign Donor Must Be Revealed

Armen Hareyan's picture

Abortion Ban Campaign

South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long (R) and Secretary of StateChris Nelson (R) on Friday said that they are asking the state SupremeCourt to overturn a ruling preserving the anonymity of a contributor toa campaign to uphold a state law (HB 1215) that would have banned abortion in the state except to save a woman's life, the AP/Yankton Press & Dakotan reports (Brokaw, AP/Yankton Press & Dakotan, 10/6).

Case History

State Rep. Roger Hunt (R) in September 2006 established PromisingFuture, and the corporation later made three separate contributions of$250,000 to,which campaigned to uphold the ban. Long earlier this year filed acivil complaint that asked a judge to decide whether Hunt should berequired to disclose the name of the donor. Under South Dakota law, aballot question committee consists of two or more people who raisemoney to influence a ballot issue, and Long had asked a judge to decidewhether Promising Future meets the definition of such a committee


MinnehahaCounty, S.D., Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Caldwell in August said Huntand hiss corporation, Promising Future, were not a ballot questioncommittee and were not obliged to disclose the identity of the donorwho gave the $750,000. The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families successfully blockedthe 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 (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 8/15).

Nelson's Request

Nelson said the case warrants a review by the state Supreme Court,adding that the appeal also could lead to an interpretation of whetherthe state has the constitutional right to require financial reportingby committees involved in ballot measures, the AP/Press & Dakotanreports. Nelson said the court needs to decide the issue now becauseother campaign committees might challenge the state's constitutionalauthority to require campaign finance reporting (AP/Yankton Press & Dakotan, 10/6).

Thestate Legislature earlier this year passed a law that prohibitsanonymous political contributions by individuals, organizations,candidates, political committees and political parties. The lawrequires that such contributions be donated to not-for-profitorganizations. It also bars future anonymous donations and aims toeliminate any loopholes by clearly defining a ballot questioncommittee. In addition, the law requires a ballot question committeethat receives a contribution from organizations with up to 20 membersor shareholders to disclose donors if those donors own more than 10% ofthe organization. Hunt voted for the new legislation (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 8/15).

"Ithink it's important to understand this case is not about abortion" or"some vendetta against Roger Hunt," Nelson said, adding, "It's aboutcampaign finance" (AP/Yankton Press & Dakotan, 10/6).

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