The Washington Prowler column has learned that the Los Angeles Times intends to publish a story that would attempt to link former Sen. Fred Thompson to a Washington-based, pro-abortion organization. Thompson, through a spokesman, is said to go on the record in the story as having no recollection of ever doing work for the organization in question during a period in 1991 when the first Bush administration was in power.
During that time, Thompson, was "of counsel" at the Arent Fox law firm in Washington, D.C. (meaning he was not a partner, but was provided an office for his use, in part because Thompson's own practice was based in Nashville, TN), and was used by the firm's partners as a "draw" for clients and potential clients, according to a source at the firm familiar with the arrangements with Thompson and others with the "of counsel" designation.
"You'd get partners walking people into Thompson's office all the time, none of whom had any business dealings with Thompson, because he wasn't a partner with the firm," says the firm source. "But having Thompson there during a Republican administration helped with business."
Arent Fox is a well-known, heavily Democrat firm with strong ties to the Clinton administration.
In the story that the L.A. Times will report out within the next 24 to 48 hours, the paper will claim that Thompson was "hired" by the National Family Planning and Reproductive Rights Association, whose director, Judith DeSarno, was acquainted with a then-partner at Arent Fox, former Congressman Michael Barnes. In fact, DeSarno worked as a senior aide to Barnes during his time in Congress. According to Arent Fox insiders, Barnes, who now directs the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and DeSarno are both well-known left-wing activists. Most recently, both were active against the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Thompson was an adviser to Roberts, and served as his Senate "sherpa" during the confirmation process.
As well, as Thompson has continued to rise in the polls, left-wing groups have been looking for ways to ding Thompson, hitting him on lobbying stories for weeks, to little effect.
According to sources at a rival paper, the L.A. Times has been working with the pro-abortion group for some time on a Thompson lobbying story, but with little success until now. "We started hearing about it several days ago," says a Washington-based reporter for another West Coast paper. "These abortion groups have been pushing reporters to look into Thompson's past, but haven't had much to go on. You talk to these guys and you can tell that he makes them nervous. They know how he voted and where he stands."
Thompson was listed as an "enemy" by Planned Parenthood during his time in the Senate. He was twice endorsed by the National Right Life Committee, and had a 100 percent voting record on life issues during his time in the Senate. He has publicly stated his opposition to Roe v. Wade, federal funding for abortion and embryonic stem cell research.
"This is a nothing story," says the leader of a pro-life organization based in Washington, D.C. "Lawyers do this all the time, and besides, this was 1991. Thompson's life record is perfect. Folks on our side shouldn't get suckered by this kind of crap."