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Thompson And Abortion

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A big scoop in the Los Angeles Times: It seems that in the early 1990s, Fred Thompson accepted lobbying work on behalf of a family-planning group. At the time, the organization was urging the Bush 41 White House to loosen a rule that forbade abortion counseling at federally funded clinics. More:

Thompson spokesman Mark Corallo adamantly denied that Thompson worked for the family planning group. "Fred Thompson did not lobby for this group, period," he said in an e-mail.But Judith DeSarno, who was president of the family planning association in 1991, said Thompson lobbied for the group for several months.Minutes from the board's meeting of Sept. 14, 1991--a copy of which DeSarno gave to The Times--say: "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.Former Rep. Michael D. Barnes (D-Md.), a colleague at the lobbying and law firm where Thompson worked, said that DeSarno had asked him to recommend someone for the lobbying work and that he had suggested Thompson. He said it was "absolutely bizarre" for Thompson to deny that he lobbied against the abortion counseling rule."I talked to him while he was doing it, and I talked to [DeSarno] about the fact that she was very pleased with the work that he was doing for her organization," said Barnes. "I have strong, total recollection of that. This is not something I dreamed up or she dreamed up. This is fact."DeSarno said that Thompson, after being hired, reported to her that he had held multiple conversations about the abortion rule with Sununu, who was then the White House chief of staff and the president's point man on the rule.

--Isaac Chotiner

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