More on Thompson's lobbying for pro-choicers
Where there's ssmoke there's fire??? It's beginning to look that way. Another round in the ongoing story broke this morning. This time via the NY Times, which went back and reviewed the billing records of Thompson's old lobbying firm.
OK, first off, his story has clearly been "evolving" since this whole issue became public...and he personally never issued a direct denial. Second, the man is running for President of the United States, and in that capacity, anything and everything he has ever done and said, or who he may have worked for and what he did for them, is subject to question and evaluation and then explanation. All such information are viatl clues and cues for primary voters that are looking for a candidate to represent their values and their party. If he doesn't want to play by those rules, then he needs to re-think whether he should toss his hat into the ring.Reaction from National Review:
Billing records show that former Senator Fred Thompson spent nearly 20 hours working as a lobbyist on behalf of a group seeking to ease restrictive federal rules on abortion counseling in the 1990s, even though he recently said he did not recall doing any work for the organization.
According to records from Arent Fox, the law firm based in Washington where Mr. Thompson worked part-time from 1991 to 1994, he charged the organization, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, about $5,000 for work he did in 1991 and 1992. The records show that Mr. Thompson, a probable Republican candidate for president in 2008, spent much of that time in telephone conferences with the president of the group, and on three occasions he reported lobbying administration officials on its behalf. ...
Earlier this month, Mr. Thompson disputed accounts by the group's former president and others, saying through a spokesman that he had "no recollection" of doing anything to aid the group's efforts to overturn a rule banning federally financed clinics from dispensing information about abortion to pregnant women. At most, said Mr. Thompson's spokesman, Mark Corallo, he "may have been consulted by one of the firm's partners who represented this group." ...
But in answering questions by the conservative Tennessee group Flare during the 1994 campaign, Mr. Thompson promised not to support tax-financed clinics that recommend "abortion as a method of birth control."
His representation of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, which was trying to overturn the ban on abortion counseling, put him at odds with the anti-abortion movement, which considered the ban a crucial victory.
The billing records from Arent Fox show that Mr. Thompson, who charged about $250 an hour, spoke 22 times with Judith DeSarno, who was then president of the family planning group. In addition, he lobbied "administration officials" for a total of 3.3 hours, the records show, although they do not specify which officials he met with or what was said. ...
After his work for the family planning group was made public earlier this month, Mr. Thompson sought to distance his own positions from those that he took on behalf of clients he represented as a lobbyist and a lawyer.
In a column published on the conservative blog Powerline, Mr. Thompson wrote that in light of lawyer-client confidentiality, it would not be appropriate for him to respond to those who are "dredging up clients - or another lawyer's clients - that I may have represented or consulted with" 15 or 20 years ago. ...
Thompson's reaction to this story since it appeared is not encouraging. "Were you a lobbyist for this pro-abortion group back in 1991?" is not an illegtimate question, no matter how much Team Thompson or the rest of us may not like the Los Angeles Times. Fred's answers have been a blanket denial [UPDATE: See this post], then a claim that he can't recall, and finally a declaration that those types of questions about former clients are off-limits. The argument put forth in that column sent to Powerline appears to be a mistake, in retrospect. One way or another, information about Thompson's previous work for clients will come out; better that we hear it from him, with his perspective and justifications.
So far, he's not showing himself to be a very sure-footed candidate.
(full disclosure, I'm in the Romney camp)