That $750k thing

For all of you naysayers, I haven't been paying attention to this because I've been out with my bride tonight. I did catch it on the 10pm news, and this at the least looks interesting. At the most... eh, it possibly was not a good thing to do for all involved.

I'll try to do a little research on it tomorrow so I comment intelligently, as I've been otherwise occupied tonight.

In the meantime, check out Todd Epp's coverage of it from his point of view. And the argus weighs in on it as well.

State law bars corporations from donating to candidates, political action
committees and political parties.

However, corporations can contribute to ballot-question committees, such as Vote Yes for Life.There is no limit on the amount of money that corporations or individuals can donate to ballot committees.

On Thursday, Hunt said he couldn’t talk about who was behind the company and the origin of its funding, citing attorney-client privilege. Hunt is an attorney.

When asked if the money was his, Hunt said no. He did say the money behind Promising Future came from South Dakotans.Both sides of the abortion issue have pointed to their in-state contributors as evidence that South Dakotans support their cause.

Check the references for other opinions. I'll soon come with my own.


Anonymous said…
As best I can tell, Hunt's corporation was not illegal. However, he has identified a big loophole in our election laws that allows someone to donate money to an issue committee without reporting their identity.

It is unconstitutional to restrict the amounts of contributions to issue committees. However, you can require that any committee or PAC report their contributors.

Even Adelstein-type PACs, which are set up merely to skirt donation limits, are required to report their donors.

I don't know offhand how to close this loophole - you cannot require corporations to report stuff generally, because most corporations are businesses. You also cannot prohibit corporations from donating to issue committees.

I don't know the solution, but clearly something must be done - it is important that we know who is donating to what.
Anonymous said…
If Senator Adelstein had done this, you guys would be coming unglued.

This will be the litmus test on hypocrisy.

Lee Schoenbeck... are you there?
Anonymous said…
Here's Chris Nelson's take, as reported by KELO:

"It is legal for a corporation to donate money to a campaign for a ballot question. And if it comes from the corporation's general treasury fund, the corporation doesn't have to file a campaign finance report. But as Secretary of State Chris Nelson explains, that changes if the money came from a donation.

"If on the other hand, the corporation collected that money from other sources, specifically for the purposes of influencing a ballot question, that corporation would be responsible for filing a campaign finance report," Nelson says."

That's a problem for Hunt. This so-called corporation didn't exist until September 17, and Hunt admits in his KELO interview that it was set up to serve as a conduit.

KELOLAND NEWS: Was this corporation started to funnel money?

HUNT: This corporation was obviously started within the last couple months. It had a number of purposes.

KELOLAND NEWS: I'm just wondering, how did (the donors) find you? I didn't see (your corporation) advertised.

HUNT: This is not a publicly traded corporation. Very few are. But at the same time, it's a very small state. People know me. I'm the prime sponsor of 1215. People know Leslee. I mean, it's not too difficult to find out where you basically can send money.

I don't know what law Nelson is citing, but I'd bet that he does know something about these kinds of laws. If Nelson is right, Hunt may have hung himself on KELO
Anonymous said…
KSFY adds some clarity --

Thursday afternoon Secretary of State Chris Nelson said he didn't have any specific information about this case. But in general, he said companies that donate money out of their normal operating funds, don't have to specify where that money comes from. However, Nelson says if they take in money specifically to be given to a campaign, the source of that money needs to be revealed. He says if a complaint is filed, it would be investigated by the Attorney General's Office.

I wonder if anyone will be contacting Larry Long tomorrow?
Anonymous said…
I wonder if former Lt. Governor Steve Kirby has any thoughts on this? He is a politico who has also started a bunch of corporations. Maybe PP should give him a call and see what he thinks...
Anonymous said…
What he did is clearly illegal. That money should have been reported and it was not income of the business that was then donated to the campaign. It was a donation to the company that was passed on making campaign law apply. Hunt didn't file the proper campaign paperwork per Chris Nelson. If Hunt tries to claim it was business income of that corporation he has violated a number of other things like not reporting income, paying taxes on it etc. Hunt admitted in the argus story this morning that it was a shell corp with no purpose. If you read all of the media accounts from KELO, KSFY and the Argus you can see that Hunt is scrambling to explain this thing. When a lawyer can't form a reasoned response for their professional actions they are either a really bad lawyer or caught in a big lie.
Anonymous said…
Hunt shouould lose his seat in the house and lose his law license. He should also have to pay income tax on all the money "earned" by the corporation. Clearly the leaders of the Yes on 6 group have NO integrity. And since when has a yes on 6 person wanted to be annonymous?
Anonymous said…
How could he pay income tax on it? We have no corporate or state income tax. It's really sickening to read Epp's and others blogs, they are so biased and prejudiced, no objectivity whatsoever. At least PP sticks to the facts without constant name-calling and innuendo in every comment. There are a lot of hypocrites on here, do they complain on the other blogs when the reporter isn't objective?
Anonymous said…
7:59, a corporations reporting requirements aren't merely to the State. I'm guessing the Roger H. thought he could do something, set up this corporation to funnel money and now finds himself unsure if everything he's done is kosher. What was the nature of the money that "funneled." Somebody is going to have to answer that or did this corporation get set up for one guy to "funnel" money? That's probably the best case for Roger H.

2:12, guys like Kirby would never hire guys like Hunt to record a deed.
Anonymous said…
" Anonymous said...
How could he pay income tax on it? We have no corporate or state income tax."

We due have a revenue tax and businesses are required to collect, document and pay these taxes on certain business transactions and sales. If he tries to claim it was business income the dept. of revenue is going to be asking questions about the income. That business will also have to answer to the IRS come tax time.
Anonymous said…
Roger's facial ticks and general nervous behavior on KSFY made him look very Nixon like. He needs to polish up his misrepresentation skills. He should spend more time in the court room and less time in Pierre.
Anonymous said…
A contribution to a ballot issue committee is not tax-deductible, but can this anonymous donor use his investment in this "corporation" as a deduction?
Anonymous said…
It's hard not to understand his dedication to the cause, but, Hunt clearly stepped over the line. Someone should really question voting for a guy who can make such short work of our campaign finance laws.

He's being dishonest. I've never agreed with his politics, but, I at least repsected him. That's out the window now - he's cheating the system, and it's inexcusable.

I also think that PP could do quite a bit of research here, but he likely won't.

A couple days ago he did an excaustive report on Stan's contribution to something called the Majority Project. Since then, it's come out that it wasn't a contribution to Daschle's group, it was a contribution to an instate group for instate races. PP did nothing to retract it, correct it, or show some accountability for his accusations.

Now, when it's clear a the system has been gamed, he'll let it take a back seat.

What else would you expect?
Anonymous said…
I beleive Chris Nelson to be one of the most honest people in state government. He's got a tough job and often finds himself in the middle of partisan disputes. But he is the ultimate professional.

The comments he made to KELO and to KSFY are clear and consistent. If Hunt started this corporation in order to avoid disclosing the identity of the donors, he broke the law, according to Nelson.

And in this fight, I'll take Chris Nelson's word over Roger Hunt's. Chris Nelson is the Chief Election Officer in the State of South Dakota. He is charged with executing the election laws. Hunt wrote the ban that's on the ballot. He has a significant stake in whether or not it passes. And I think he lost a little common sense when he saw the opportunity to funnel $750,000 to help his cause. I don't think he's a bad person, but I think he saw that much cash and made a bad judgment.
Anonymous said…
When I read the first reports, I agreed with the first comment -- huge loophole, unethical but not illegal. However, after reading Chris Nelson's comments, I've changed my mind. Nelson obviously isn't out on a partisan witch hunt, and he knows his stuff on this type of deal.

Hunt's comments in the Argus Leader today confirm that this "corporation" hasn't done any actual business other than funneling money to the Yes for Six Campaign. And that appears to trigger the reporting requirements.

Chris Nelson knows his stuff, and it looks like Roger Hunt crossed the line. Does anyone know what the penalty for this is? I see on Epp's blog they're is talk about a provision that removes someone from the ballot or from office for violating the election laws. If that's the case, we might be talking about this long past election day...
Anonymous said…
12-25-24 requires the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute violations of the filing requirements.

12-25-26 calls for any elected official or candidate for office who violates the campaign finance laws (save for petty offenses/class 2 misdemeanors) to be removed from the ballot or removed from office.

The question is whether or not Hunt's transgressions are significant enough to trigger that standard. I would think so, especially since he partnered with someone to do this raising it to the level of criminal conspiracy. But that's up to the Attorney General to decide.
Anonymous said…
This is a classic example of what happens to good people when their desire to win overcomes their commitment to doing what's right.

Roger Hunt and Leslee Unruh were passionate in their beleif that the ban should not include a rape, incest or health exception. They saw this as a court case to challenge Roe v. Wade. When the pro-abortion people challenged it at the ballot box, and the polls showed them losing, they ran ads saying there is an exception for rape, incest and health.

And now, in order to keep those ads on the air, it looks like they broke the law in order to get this $750,000 into their campaign accounts. I'm sure they've rationalized and justified it to themselves, but they let their desire to win get the best of their better judgment.

This whole thing is sad. I had a lot of respect for Leslee and Roger before this. They were good people driven by their convictions. But this has brought out the worst of both of them. And now it looks like at least one of them will be the subject of a criminal investigation.

The old adage is right -- winning isn't everything, it's how you play the game that counts.
Anonymous said…

Chris thought he was right when he decided to keep the video lotter ban off the ballot and the courts overturned his decision.

Chris is a greaty guy and I like him personally and politically but he's not infalliable and not always right. Especially in an area of camapaign finance law with little precdent or use.

Don't be so fickle as to make your decisions based upon Chris's quotes in the newspaper. That shows a real lack of investigative prowess on your part.

Since when are newspaper quotes authoritative? That's jailhouse lawyering and it needs to stop.
Anonymous said…
8:26 is right. While South Dakota has little in the way of regs for such corporate activities, the IRS has volumes. If the IRS rules the purposes of the contributions were not philantrophic in nature, hence a true contribution, they may rule that the giving of the funds is the "business" of the corp. and all the revenue recieved by the corp will be classified as income and none of the contributions are dedutible.

A single-purpose corporation with no other activities would be hard pressed to declare the contributions were simply gifts given in the ordinary course of other corporate activities.

So. $750k in income and no tax deductions. Ouch! That's gonna be a big check Roger's "client" is going to have to write to Uncle come April . . .
Anonymous said…
Don't misrepresent Mr. Nelson's position to cover Roger Hunt.

Nelson asked the AG for an opinion on the ballot measures, and, throughout the whole process, Nelson maintained that he preferred to let the people decide.

It was Larry Long - our state's top lawyer an chief authority on the law of the land - that was WRONG. No accountability for that, I suppose.

Roger Hunt is a slime ball. Even if Nelson refers this to the AG, I dought anything will be done. Where's the special session on campaign finance?

Roger Hunt deserves to be punished for this. He's a slimeball.
Anonymous said…
A November surprise instead of an
October surprise. If this corporation was formed in September, why is it just being raised now? That is a question that is often asked by people of all political persuasions. The timing is suspect.
Anonymous said…

I don't see why 12-25-26 has anything to do with this. You can take a candidate off the ballot, but not an issue.
Anonymous said…
Timing is suspect? Get Real. It's coming out now because the campaign finance reports are just coming out.

This is wrong, and any Republican or Democrat that refused to acknowlege it cares more about politics than they do about the law.

Uphold the law of the land - don't find a work around.

I guess there's corruption in all levels of the Republican party - even in good ol South Dakota.
Anonymous said…
I'm sure Hunt is going to say his behavior is condoned by his service to God. God allows the cloaking of Holy Contributions ... also known as the Holy Buck Clause.
Anonymous said…
Reed -- Roger Hunt is a candidate for office on the November ballot. Obviously, you can't take the word "YES" off of the ballot for a referred law. But if Roger Hunt violated the election law, he could be removed from office or taken off the ballot.
Anonymous said…
I don't think anyone is saying that Chris Nelson is infalliable, but I think he has 1,000 times more credibility on this than Roger Hunt... and, 1,000 times more credibility than anonymous contributors (including moi) to a blog.
Anonymous said…
Here are the facts:

Roger Hunt and Promising Future did not violate the law. Their actions are legitimate and in the public interest.

There is an exception in the law for rape. Victims of rape can obtain an abortion under the law.

There is an exception in the law for incest. Victims of incest can obtain an abortion under the law.

There is an exception in the law for health. When a women's health is threatened, she can obtain an abortion under the law.

This law is supported by a majority of South Dakotans, and will be upheld on Tuesday.

I hope this clears everything up.
Anonymous said…
Remember the mysterious $1 milllion donor that Hunt said would be available to fund defense of a lawsuit? He was often questioned about the source of the $1 milllion and he dodged the question consistently.
Anonymous said…
Anything Hildebrand is promoting, I'm against.
Anonymous said…
Hey Rusty, where are you getting your "facts"? Refered Law 6 won't allow anyone to have abortions because of rape, incest or health troubles. So everything you just said is a lie.

Try to use truth next time, not truthiness.
Anonymous said…
The funny thing is that I can't tell if "Rusty" is being ironic, or if he us reading Leslee Unruh's talking points...
Anonymous said…
This crap drags us all down.

If we are going to set ourselves up as the nanny party that makes us the nanny state, then let's at least be honest about it.

Hunt loaded us on this boat and now he's dumb enough to take us over the falls. Hunt needs to take the fall.

I remember when we were the party of less government...Brock are you listening on your outlawing contraception thoughts...please don't go there. Save it for your church!!

There's some good R's that are in jeopardy because of extremists jumping the shark...and quite frankly I'm not lemming enough to follow you off the cliff in an attempt to see how far the republican party can go for social reform.

Get back to the business of governing and the core values that don't revolve around preaching and big government control.

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