Inside Leslee Unruh
Leslee Unruh is the founder and president of both the National Abstinence Clearinghouse and the Alpha Center, a crisis pregnancy center operation in Sioux Falls. Both are registered as 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. In 2004, according to returns filed with the IRS, Unruh's combined personal income from almost three-quarters of a million dollars in government contracts, federal grants and other "direct public support" to these two organizations was $152, 376.00.
The Abstinence Clearinghouse Form 990 says that "God is the curegiver," but since you and I seem to be paying the lion's share of Unruh's salary, let's take a look at what she's spending it on -- besides, as one local observer, Coat Hangers at Dawn, surmised last week, "lobster and cheap cosmetics."
As of the first of June 2006 Vote Yes had raised $88,000 for their campaign. By the end of that month they has spent almost the entire amount. They spent $87,000 in one month. Remember June? This was the time that little was going on and things like media buys or production had not even started happening yet. This was before Leslee Unruh went begging for Jerry Fallwell to raise a million dollars for her.
Yet according to the official financial report [pdf link] filed by "Vote Yes for Life," that's exactly what happened. Although she didn't sign the report, the "Vote Yes for Life" Campaign Team is under the sole command of Leslee Unruh -- because when you're lobbying against abortion rights in South Dakota, Leslee Unruh is a woman who can pull the strings.
Local observers have taken note of Unruh's political connections since 1987, when she paid a nominal fine and walked out into the sunshine after pleading nolo contendere to five misdemeanors, instead of facing a much more severe sentence for ten other misdemeanors and multiple felonies with which she was also charged.
The center was fined $500 in 1987 after pleading no contest to five misdemeanor charges of unlicensed adoption and foster care practices. That was part of a plea bargain in which 19 charges, including four felonies, were dropped.
Nice dodge, but "saving babies" isn't against the law. However, leaning on teenagers to hand over their babies for money is still a crime, even in South Dakota.
The dropped felony charges centered on an alleged offer of money to women who would agree to put their unborn children up for adoption.
Of course he was. Even though Governor Mikelson personally asked a state's attorney to prosecute her. But in most places in the world, it takes a powerful friend somewhere to make four felony counts disappear.
Even though the returns from both Abstinence Clearinghouse and the Alpha Center declare that neither of these officially related organizations engaged in lobbying activities, defined by the IRS as attempting "to influence national, state or local legislation, including any attempt to influence public opinion on a legislative matter or referendum" -- and although Abstinence Clearinghouse and the Alpha Center represent her sole sources of declared income -- Leslee Unruh does little else. Indeed, she openly registered as a lobbyist for the Alpha Center during the 2006 legislative session.
Unruh's blatant and ongoing violations of federal law during the 2004 legislative session prompted an official complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Both NAC and Alpha Center claimed on their 990 tax forms that they engaged in no lobbying activities. Yet, despite these assertions, Ms. Unruh, acting in her official capacity, has repeatedly been quoted in newspaper reports as lobbying legislators to fund abstinence education programs and to ban abortion. For example Ms. Unruh was featured in a story in the Star Tribune:
Last week, in an eleventh hour push in the campaign to pass the hotly contested ban, Unruh's son-in-law, Dr. Mark Rector, lent his face, voice and professional reputation -- such as that might be -- to a video containing a litany of lies [video link] recited by South Dakota physicians whose white coats fail to sanitize deliberate misstatements of fact that were, according to South Dakota statute, criminal misdemeanors.
Perhaps because it was the biggest lie of all, it was Unruh's son-in-law who mouthed this whopper from television sets across the state.
In the new ad for Vote Yes for Life, South Dakota physician Mark Rector says "This measure does provide exception for the life and the health of the mother."
Not to mention, of course, that making such a public claim is just plain illegal. Not that anyone of influence in South Dakota seems to be overly concerned. The doctors in Leslee's commercial also get away with assuring the public that the ban provides an exception for survivors of rape and incest. That means that they can take emergency contraception -- even though it has a failure rate of at least 10%, and no hospital or physician in the state is required to provide it.
And that, of course, is no exception at all -- exactly as the ban's primary proponent in the legislature, Rep. Roger Hunt, intended.
And of course, as reported by the Argus Leader:
The ban would not allow a pregnant woman with serious health issues whose life isn't in imminent peril to receive an intentional abortion, said Republican Rep. Roger Hunt of Brandon, who sponsored the ban in the Legislature.
In the meantime, Leslee Unruh continues to make TV and radio appearances on major media outlets to detail the traumatic aftermath of abortion, which she claims left her unable to vacuum her carpets [audio link] because the sound of the vacuum cleaner supposedly reminded her of her own abortion. Apparently no one has told her that the aspiration machine used to perform an abortion procedure sounds nothing at all like a vacuum cleaner, but is very quiet -- much more like the low hum of a dishwasher before the water cycle begins -- else she'd doubtlessly have spent a fortune by now on paper plates.
Despite Leslee's vulgar little comedy, the linked PBS program clip is worth hearing for a brief interview with Dr. Miriam McCreary, who at age 70 still flies into Sioux Falls once a week to provide women with abortion care, because no doctor in the state has enough courage to oppose Leslee Unruh and her friends.
(CNN) -- Not a single doctor in South Dakota will perform an abortion, which is why Dr. Miriam McCreary has come out of retirement.
Dr. McCreary has an entirely different view of her medical obligations than another of Leslee Unruh's pet physicians, Dr. Glenn Ridder. The original Argus Leader article is unavailable online, but its text has been preserved by Tennessee Vals.org.
Jonna DiRito, formerly known as John DiRito, filed a lawsuit Monday against the hospital and family practice Dr. Glenn Ridder claiming both denied treatment. DiRito also is suing Dr. Michael Kuglitsch of Aberdeen and Kuglitsch's clinic, Eastern Plains Clinic of Urology.
A real "pro-life" physician.
Meanwhile, in anticipation of victory, Leslee has yet another project, the "Fleet for Little Feet."
Of course, if Referred Law 6 passes, women won't feel that they can choose abortion -- unless, God forbid, they do it themselves.
Fleet for Little Feet is currently under the umbrella of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, but will soon be an independent organization. FFLF will provide baby supplies (diapers, formula, bottles, baby clothes, baby furniture, high chairs, etc.), ultrasounds, counseling services including post-abortion counseling, information about sexuality issues, and even plans to perform a play called "Scar."
One shudders to think what that's about, coming from a woman who can say, "I'm giving women freedom. We are giving back the women what they really want. This is true feminism. ... I would like to have people instead put in their mind a woman who has an abortion who can no longer live with what she does, and instead takes a gun to her head. That's the image she needs to be putting out there right now, because that's what's happening all over America."
You're doin' a heckuva job, Leslee.
[All citations not otherwise credited may be found in CREW's exhibits document [pdf link] in support of their IRS complaint, including tax returns for National Abstinence Clearinghouse and the Alpha Center, as well as various press reports.]
[Title photo: PBS]
Inside Leslee Unruh | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)
Inside Leslee Unruh | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)