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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
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S.D. Court Reinstates Mystery Donor Challenge

(CN) - The South Dakota Supreme Court revived a lawsuit accusing a shell corporation of improperly concealing the identity of a mystery donor who anonymously contributed $750,000 to an anti-abortion ballot measure.

Secretary of State Chris Nelson sued Promising Future Inc. and Roger Hunt to get them to disclose the identity of a third party who contributed $750,000 to PFI, which then donated the money to VoteYesForLife.com.

The election in question took place in 2006, when South Dakota voters passed Initiate Measure 11, which outlaws abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother's health.

The circuit court dismissed Nelson's complaint, ruling that Hunt, PFI, and the third party did not constitute a ballot question committee that would have required disclosure of the third party's identity.

In their motion for summary judgment, Hunt and PFI conceded that PFI was formed for the purpose of making the anonymous contributions.

"Had the unnamed third party given $750,000 directly to VoteYesforLife, he or she would have otherwise been required to reveal his or her identity," Justice Sabers ruled. "Hunt and the unnamed party formed PFI to avoid this result."

Therefore, Sabers overturned the circuit court's ruling for summary judgment and remanded the case for trial.

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