What's The Intent?

The Argus has an interview in this morning’s edition with one client corporation starter Roger Hunt whose Promising Future Inc. was responsible for funneling $750K to the campaign in support of the abortion ban in 2006. The original donor was never identified despite the rumblings from colleagues in the legislature and an unsuccessful lawsuit brought forward by Attorney General Larry Long and Secretary of State Chris Nelson.

No matter what your opinion of the issue or the person involved, the argument being used against Hunt is one that I always found a little amusing.

He said he knew going into the formation of Promising Future Inc. that it was a corporation and not a ballot-question committee. And he not only researched that, but other lawyers did, too, he said. “We knew what the laws were,” he said.
Debate about semantics misses point, critics argue
Perhaps from a technical standpoint, that’s true, said former legislator Casey Murschel of Sioux Falls, now South Dakota’s executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. But she said Hunt should have been looking at the intent of that law and not the language.

Intent is a funny thing, in Hunt’s case his intent was obvious. The donor wanted to help pass the most restrictive abortion ban in the country with a donation that would surely put his name in the press but he didn’t want that to happen. Hunt, a well know abortion opponent, state legislator, and most importantly in this case a lawyer was tasked with making that a reality. Hunt did what lawyers do, he found a problem with the law and exploited it, his intent while obvious really doesn’t matter. Hunt and the donor wanted to ban abortion and this donation would help move that cause along, why would Hunt worry about the intent of the law as long as he thought he could legally get away with it?

Most believe that individuals donating large amounts of money to political campaigns or to issue committee’s should not be allowed to do so anonymously for obvious reasons but that belief doesn’t make it illegal, our laws do and in this case Hunt found a way that made it technically legal. As the old saying goes if you don’t like a law, change it. Hunt legally exploited the law by taking a page out of his dirty tricks handbook and as is often the case, South Dakota legislators had to respond after the fact by closing the loophole.

Finally just a suggestion to our legislators that are complaining about this including Rep. Dale Hargens who also seems to not like to follow the intent of some laws. Maybe spending more time on issues that matter to everyone like campaign finance reform (that you seem to ignore) instead of morality and "nanny state" issues would have allowed loopholes such as this to be discovered and closed before they were exploited in the first place. At least one legislator knew of this loophole, how many others did as well?

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