The Man Who's Bankrolling South Dakota's Anti-Choice CampaignS

A fund set up to defend antiabortion bills in South Dakota against legal challenges is being increasingly bankrolled by out-of-state donors. This year, over half the money donated to the fund came from an Ohio business owner who says "my businesses belong to Jesus." We decided to learn a little more about him.

According to the Argus Leader (via Minnesota Independent), South Dakota's Life Protection Subfund was set up by the state legislature in 2005 to defend a law requiring doctors to tell each abortion-seeker that she "has an existing relationship with that unborn human being and that the relationship enjoys protection under the United States Constitution and under the laws of South Dakota." Now the fund is also used to defend other laws, including one requiring a 72-hour waiting period for an abortion. In years past, most of the money in the fund has come from South Dakota — but this year, two thirds of the $48,000 donated to come from out-of-state. And a full $25,000 came from one couple, Joseph and Cynthia Brinck of Ohio.

So who are the Brincks? Joseph is the CEO of Stelter and Brinck LTD, which "has been designing and manufacturing various types of process heat and environmental equipment for over 55 years!" He's also the Vice President of Ruah Woods, a Catholic ministry whose mission "is to restore the family and renew the culture by educating and training leaders and teachers to understand, embrace and evangelize the message of Theology of the Body, a vision of authentic sexuality that appeals to the deepest yearning of the human heart for love and union." In his bio on the website, Brinck says,

My businesses belong to Jesus and we state so in our corporate minutes and our mission and vision statements. We use our businesses to evangelize our employees, customers and suppliers. We use the profits to support pro-life organizations.

The bio continues,

Joe travels the country working among the leaders in the pro-life movement. He is President of the Sanctity of Life Foundation which is a conduit foundation that identifies and works with the most effective pro-life organizations. In an effort to end legalized abortion, they maintain a bird's eye view of the pro-life movement and aid ministries to become more effective and promote cooperation among pro-life groups.

The Sanctity of Life Foundation, also known as the Brinck Family Foundation, doesn't appear to have its own website. But FAQs.org reports that the foundation had an income of $355,475 and assets of $52,871 in 2010. And UrbanMinistryGrants lists some of its past grant recipients. One, Pregnancy Center East, is a Crisis Pregnancy Center which asserts a link between abortion and breast cancer and alleges that babies delivered alive after attempted abortion are "simply placed into a basin, covered with a towel and [...] allowed to die from neglect." The Brinck Family Foundation also donated $5,000 to Choose Life Plates, which promotes state license plates that bear anti-abortion messages, and whose proceeds go to crisis pregnancy centers. The plates are available in both South Dakota and Ohio.

As an individual donor, Joseph Brinck has also contributed to the campaigns of various Republican lawmakers from Ohio. In fiscal year 2010, he gave $1500 to the reelection campaign of Rep. Steve Chabot, author and lead sponsor of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Cynthia Brinck has also donated to his campaign. And she donated to the presidential campaign of Sam Brownback, who opposed abortion even in the case of rape.

Clearly, the Brincks have a history of supporting anti-abortion causes at both the state and national level. That's their rights as citizens. However, things get murkier when they start paying to prop up anti-abortion legislation in states where they don't reside. Politicians of all stripes, especially at the state level, claim to represent the will of their constituents. But when they need deep-pocketed out-of-state donors to push their measures through in-state courts, it's hard to tell who they're representing. At least in the area of abortion, South Dakota conservatives appear to be working on behalf of Joseph and Cynthia Brinck.

South Dakota Anti-Abortion Legal Fund Supported Mostly By Out-Of-State Donors [Minnesota Independent]
Abortion Law Gets Boost From Out Of State [Argus Leader]