by Steven Ertelt
January 3, 2007
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long has filed a civil complaint asking a judge to determine whether pro-life state Rep. Roger Hunt should be required to identify who gave his corporation a large gift that was transferred to the pro-life group seeking to uphold the state’s abortion ban.
State voters rejected the ban last November.
Hunt, a Republican, is under fire for the donations he made from a business called Promising Future he set up before the elections.
Hunt’s company received three donations of $250,000 each and he, in turn, made contributions to Vote Yes for Life, the organization that supported the abortion ban on the ballot.
Long points out that South Dakota law defines a ballot question committee as a group consisting of two or more people who raise money to influence a ballot issue. He is asking the Minnehaha County Circuit Court to decide whether Promising Future meets the definition of such a committee.
"The real purpose of the corporation’s creation was to provide a corporate shell by which the sole shareholder could make anonymous contributions to ballot question committees that supported the passage" of the ban, Long’s filing said, according to an AP story.
Hunt said he followed state campaign finance laws and questioned whether a corporation should be defined as a ballot question committee.
"A corporation basically, in many cases in our state laws and case law, is held to be one person," he told the Associated Press.
Hunt has previously said the money for the donations came from an anonymous donor who he has not identified. He says the donor is worried about possible backlash given the inordinate amount of vandalism that occurred when abortion advocates trashed hundreds of signs from the pro-life campaign.
Hunt may face political repercussions for the donation as well.
South Dakota state Rep. Dale Hargens, a Democrat, has called on the state legislature to discuss whether or not to revoke Hunt’s right to serve there for refusing to disclose the identity of the donor.
Hargens told AP "It looks like there’s no way I can stop him from being seated," but said Hunt should be censured in some way.
State voters rejected the abortion ban, which would prohibit all abortions except those necessary to save the life of the mother, on a 56-44 percentage margin. Polls showed that state voters oppose abortion but also wanted rape and incest exceptions added to the ban.
Hunt, who sponsored the ban in the state legislature, has already said he may come back in the next legislative session and craft a new ban containing those exceptions as well.
Though pro-life groups don’t support abortion for those cases, they may rally around such an abortion ban because more than 98 percent of all abortions in the state would still be prohibited.
Either way, Leslee Unruh, leader of the Vote Yes for Life group that promoted the abortion ban, doesn’t plan to give up.