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Another Swing, Another Miss: The LA Times “Abortion Lobbyist” Hit Piece
Blogs for Fred ^ | 7/7/2007 | Joe Carter

Posted on 07/07/2007 6:10:22 AM PDT by Neville72

The LA Times headlines reads, “Lobbyist Thompson had abortion-rights role.” From that you might surmise that they actually had evidence that Thompson had an “abortion-rights” role while he was a lobbyist.

Let’s first examine the evidence for the affirmative case, which is based solely on “a 1991 document and several people familiar with the matter.”

The document is minutes from the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Assn. board meeting (dated Sept. 14, 1991) that reads “Judy [DeSarno] reported that the association had hired Fred Thompson Esq. as counsel to aid us in discussions with the administration” on the abortion-counseling rule. Judith DeSarno, a left-wing abortion advocate who was president of the family planning association in 1991, says Thompson lobbied for the group for several months. Former Rep. Michael D. Barnes of Maryland, a colleague at the lobbying and law firm where Thompson worked, said DeSarno–a senior aide to Barnes during his time in Congress–had asked him to recommend someone for the lobbying work. He claims that he had suggested that she hire Thompson.

DeSarno claims that Thompson reported to her, after being hired, that he had held multiple conversations about the abortion “gag rule” with John Sununu, who was then the White House chief of staff and the president’s point man on the abortion rule.

Susan Cohen, a member of the association’s board of directors in 1991, says that DeSarno contacted Thompson. Sarah L. Szanton, who worked for DeSarno as director of government relations for the family planning association, said that she too recalled that

Thompson “consulted on our behalf against the gag rule.” Bill Hamilton, then-director of the Washington office of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, says he recalls DeSarno “reaching out to [Thompson] and engaging him in some way.”

Now let’s look at the case against the allegations:

Thompson categorically denies that he ever lobbied for the abortion rights group.

John Sunnu, the man Thompson was supposedly lobbying, says “I know that never happened.”

As Sunnu points out, for Thompson or anyone else to lobby against the rule “would have been a waste of time, given the [George H.W. Bush’s] opposition to abortion rights.”

At the time, Thompson’s law practice was based in Nashville. He was not a partner at the Arent Fox law firm in Washington, D.C. but merely had an office there.

This appears to be the main evidence, as derived from the media reports, for both sides of the claim. Based solely on the “he said, she said” nature of the allegations, it is difficult to determine who to believe. Fortunately, with a bit more digging and some key documents, it will be easy to determine who is telling the truth.

Thompson served in the Senate from 1994 to 2002 and had a consistently strong record of voting with pro-lifers. It is doubtful that this passed unnoticed by these five abortion activists (DeSarno, Barnes, Cohen, Szanton, and Hamilton) so we can assume that at least one of them pointed out during this time period that Thompson had once lobbied for their issues. All they have to do is show us where they talked to a reporter about this during the years that Thompson was in the Senate.

Perhaps they suffered from collective amnesia for over a decade and are only now beggining to recall Thompson’s hypocrisy. This is unlikely, though, so we should expect to find an LA Times reporter searching Lexis-Nexis to back up their allegations.

The second way that they could confirm their claim is to provide some non-trivial documentary evidence. Minutes from a board meeting? C’mon, we’re talking about a law firm. There must be reams of documents that can connect FDT to this lobbying effort: billing statements, canceled checks, progress reports, etc. A national organization hires a lobbyist and the only documentation they have is minutes from a meeting? This is believable only if they are running the dumbest non-profit in D.C.

Even the claims they make don’t seem to make sense. Barnes says he recommended that DeSarno hire his law firm colleague Fred Thompson. The minutes read, “Judy reported that the Association had hired Fred Thompson, Esq., as counsel…” So did DeSarno hire the law firm or did she contact Thompson personally?

Barnes also claims that DeSarno was “very pleased with the work that he was doing for her organization.” What exactly was she pleased about? The gag rule wasn’t changed. And when she heard about Sununu’s denial, DeSarno said Thompson “owes NFPRHA a bunch of money” if he never talked to [Sununu], as he said he had.” Again it begs the question, “What about Thompson’s work was she so “very pleased” with?

I don’t want to say that they are lying but something doesn’t add up. With over sixteen years to get their story straight, you’d think they’d be a bit more coherent.

Based on what I know of the man, I believe that Fred is telling the truth. If the “several people familiar with the matter” provide more solid evidence to back their claim I may change my opinion. But if they can’t provide better corroboration, then I’ll have to assume this is just another sloppy LA Times hit piece.

TOPICS: Politics/Elections

1 posted on 07/07/2007 6:10:23 AM PDT by Neville72
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To: Neville72

I get the sense that the word “lobbyist” is going to be one of the MSM’s special favorites. A useful magnet for evil connotations.

2 posted on 07/07/2007 6:16:40 AM PDT by Graymatter (FRederalist)
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To: Neville72
Hey, LA Slimes! Make that Hildabeast-supporting abortion group show us the billing records. Otherwise, it's just another lying liberal hit piece done for the Clintons against their strongest competition.

Fredipedia: The Definitive Fred Thompson Quick Reference

Fred Thompson FAQ: THE Fred Thompson Web Resource
3 posted on 07/07/2007 6:20:27 AM PDT by Josh Painter ("The CIA has better politicians than it has spies." - Fred Thompson)
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To: Neville72
It becomes ever more apparent that the Democrats fear a Thompson candidacy above any other possibility the GOP might produce. That alone is reason enough to back him. In a way, his staunch federalism and conservatism is icing on the cake.

Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Eternity Road

4 posted on 07/07/2007 6:22:15 AM PDT by fporretto (This tagline is programming you in ways that will not be apparent for years. Forget! Forget!)
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To: Neville72

When the accuser is an “abortion activist”, the burden of proof is with her.

5 posted on 07/07/2007 6:22:37 AM PDT by sittnick (There is no salvation in politics.)
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To: Neville72
All the Baby Killers have as 'proof' is some 'board meeting note' - allegedly. What about... What? They don't have any of that. Okay, I guess 'the dog ate them'.
6 posted on 07/07/2007 9:20:51 AM PDT by Condor51 (Rudy makes John Kerry look like a Right Wing 'Gun Nut' Extremist)
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