July 8, 2007

When Did Fred Start At Arent Fox?

An interesting question came to me from CQ reader Adam W regarding the Los Angeles Times' story about Fred Thompson and his supposed work for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association in 1991. The only evidence of this work comes from a copy of the NFPRHA's board minutes from September 14, 1991 that claims that the group had hired "Fred Thompson, Esq. as counsel to aid us in discussions with the administration" to end the rule barring abortion counseling at clinics that received federal funds. A couple of the group's principals swear that they hired Thompson; Thompson denies working for them, and the man whom Fred would have had to meet categorically states that he never discussed the gag rule with Fred at all.

Now a new bit of indirect evidence has been found. Arent Fox brought Thompson into the firm to be "of counsel" in 1991 for his expertise in their lobbying business, including the representation of foreign governments. Anyone involved in such lobbying has to register with the Foreign Agent Registration Unit at the Department of Justice. Arent Fox filed its registration for its lobbyists, complete with the listings of all its lobbyists -- including their start and termination dates.

Take a look at registrant #2661 in the FARA search system (unfortunately, the results are unlinkable). Fred D. Thompson, according to their records, starts as a lobbyist for foreign business on 10/10/1991 and terminates on 9/17/1993, which is when he decided to run for the remainder of Al Gore's term in the Senate. That gives some indication that Thompson started lobbying for Arent in October and not September of 1991. It's possible that Arent had limited Thompson to lobbying for domestic clients until October, but that seems rather odd, given their desire to have him on board as a major attraction for DC lobbying.

I'd be interested to know when he started lobbying for Arent Fox -- with an exact date. The information on Thompson's association with Arent Fox says that they hired Thompson specifically for lobbying on behalf of foreign customers, which would require the FARA registration with an exact date that such lobbying began. This implies that Thompson wouldn't have been available to the NFPRHA in Septemer 1991, and make the document on which the Times based its entire story somewhat suspect.

UPDATE: According to the American Spectator, Fred started at Arent in April -- but there is something else unusual about the story, and the way the LA Times has handled it:

Jim Geraghty, meanwhile, points out that the LA Times story has been altered without any explaination [sic] to remove a reference to a 1991 meeting in which Judith DeSarno, the head of the abortion rights group in question and Thompson's primary accuser, recalled that "Thompson re-enacted a coyboy {sic] death scene from one of his movies." He hadn't been in a coyboy [sic] movie by 1991. That is pretty damaging to the credibility of the Times story.

It's pretty clear that somebody is not telling the truth here, and now the onus is on the Times to provide harder evidence.

He also hadn't had a death scene in any of his movies, which makes the story even more laughable.


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Comments (22)

Posted by NT in TN | July 8, 2007 7:38 AM

I have just become so darn used to reality being about 180 degrees off of what the LA Times reports that I with hold judgment until all the fact checkers weigh in.

On top of that I don't trust abortion rights people on general principal. They lie to themselves about a baby being a baby. You stay down that road long enough and anybody that disagrees with you is just a "mass of tissues".

Posted by PersonFromPorlock | July 8, 2007 8:00 AM

22 USC 612 says:

...every person who becomes an agent of a foreign principal shall, within ten days thereafter, file with the Attorney General, in duplicate, a registration statement...

So there's a ten-day grace period for registration. However, that only allows for Thompson to have been hired after Sept. 31st, since he was registered on Oct. 10th. It may be that there're exceptions to the rule (IANAL) but that's the rule.

Posted by sherlock | July 8, 2007 9:03 AM

Doyle McManus, LAT Washington Bureau Chief, was giving news "analysis" on NPR this morning (standing in for Dan Schorr who is in traction after twisting himself into knots yesterday explaining the difference between the Libby and Rich pardons).

The host asked about the political implications Fred Thompson's lobbying as if it was established fact, and McManus dutifully responded that it might alienate the base, etc.

The fact that Thompson flatly denies the alleged lobbying, and that denial is seconded by another party named by the LAT was never mentioned.

The host introduced the topic by stating that the LAT "threw Thompson a curve" with the story. I guess that's NPR-speak for an old-fashioned smear job.

Posted by swabjockey05 | July 8, 2007 9:32 AM


I don't believe you...because Tom "the guru troll" Shipley regularly blathers away about how NPR is unbiased...his past blather makes your comment a probable "smear job" against NPR.

Posted by Bill M | July 8, 2007 10:31 AM

Well, at least now we have some idea what happened to Mary Mapes. Appears she may have found gainful employment with the LA Times, digging up old, "unknown" items, brushing them off, altering them into the "correct" format, and spewing them forth. Can Dapper Dan be far behind?

Now I think the LA Times really needs to show the documents. My guess is that they will never be seen and this so called "story" will die the death it deserves.

Posted by mrlynn | July 8, 2007 10:50 AM

Yes, let's see the documents! I loved watching experts on the Internet decimate the forged CBS documents, leaving Dan Rather dangling in the wind (in fact, it was the CBS scandal that got me reading blogs like PowerLine and CQ). Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of folks than these abortionists and their media lackeys.

/Mr Lynn

Posted by highcotton | July 8, 2007 12:47 PM

Forgive me if this has been mentioned on another thread and I missed it, but this was my favorite part of the 'script'.......

To make her story seem even more compelling, Ms. DeSarno (aka Drama Queen) provided this fascinating detail: during one of the several dinner meetings she had with Fred, he actually reenacted a cowboy's death scene from one of his movies in the middle of the restaurant. I mean, how could she make something like that up and how could we possibly doubt her word?

The kicker is -- wait for it -- Sen. Thompson has never been in a Western!

Oh, I laughed 'til I hurt.

Posted by Okonkolo | July 8, 2007 1:46 PM

Thompson's lobbying record will winding up being the same as a senator's voting record. If you look long enough, you will find some lobbying project or senate vote that will look ugly. Some can be explained in the context of the big picture, others cannot, and sound bites don't allow for context.

Posted by Pam | July 8, 2007 3:32 PM

Ok, guys and gals, really who the hell cares about any of this.

I'm serious. If this is the best anyone can come up with, Fred Thompson is much more than Ronald Reagan, hell he might just we the freaking reincarnation of George Washington!

Did the editors at the Times really want to use space for this piece?

All I can say is keep digging! Maybe you'll hit pay dirt.

Posted by SCSox Fan | July 8, 2007 3:57 PM

You aren't going to hear anymore about this from Thompson. The billing records will be with Arent Fox, not Thompson. Arent Fox is a Democrat-leaning law firm. If they had billing or other records supporting this claim by NFPRR don't you think they would have released them by now? In fact, the head of the firm declined to comment to the LAT for the article. I strongly suspect that Thompson informally met and discussed some general information regarding this as part of his "of counsel" retainer, but never actually did any lobbying. NFPRR is hitting this because Thompson is the most pro-life top tier contender and they saw a chance to take him down some notches. Thompson can't win. He can keep trying to "prove a negative" (not doing any lobbying) but without the Arent Fox records (which he ain't gonna get) he can't. Even though his supposed lobbying target, Sununu, has flatly denied any lobbying took place, the MSM will just assume the story is true (they already are as, may I add, a hell of a lot of supposedly conservative bloggers). All any more denials will do is keep the story alive without advancing Thompson's position. He's put out his and Sununu's denials. The best thing he can do now is just shut up about it and let it die a natural death, since NFPRR can't prove anything either.

Posted by chas | July 8, 2007 4:51 PM


not only has he not been in a western but looking thru his roles on IMDB i dont see a movie in which his character died.

Posted by Rodney A Stanton | July 8, 2007 5:16 PM

I subscribed to the LAT for over 20 years.The reason I caneled my subscription 20 years ago (1987) was that their news was in fact lies. To the point anti America propaganda.
The LAT became an antiAmerica propaganda tool when the second rate shot puter from the Farm took it over 43 years ago. It was a ggod newspaper that reported honestly and correctly in the 50's.

Posted by Nedra Lee | July 8, 2007 6:51 PM

I don't know why the Cap'n even took up space to address this ... uuhhh... trash.

Haven't we learned by now that anything published in the LAT/ NYT is not worthy of even thinking about let alone reading., etc etc

Posted by sherlock | July 8, 2007 9:26 PM

"...makes your comment a probable "smear job" against NPR."

Is it possible to smear something that is itself a smear? Anyway, I will give my possible smear the same amount of concern that NPR gives theirs. Nice weather we're having here on the West coast, isn't it?

Posted by Adjoran | July 9, 2007 12:17 AM

It is theoretically possible, still - at least the registration of Fred as a foreign lobbyist doesn't prove anything. The firm only needed to register him within 10 days of the first day he lobbied for a covered foreign client, not the day he joined the firm.

However, just because something is theoretically possible doesn't make it probable at all. The fact that Thompson, knowing all his billing records were in the hands of a Democratic firm, issued a flat denial indicates he knows darned well there are no billings because he did no lobbying. Given the flat denials from Thompson and the fellow he was supposedly lobbying, the only possible proof would be billing records.

The story about his reenactment of a death scene could be true - he could have just been demonstrating how to act - but proves nothing at all if it is. IOW, he may have had dinner with the firm's clients and offered advice and even entertainment without ever actually performing work for them. He may have done so to be seen as "earning his keep" at the firm until foreign clients could be signed up.

Show us the bills, or retract the claim he "lobbied for" your organization. In a world with a media which did its job, these people would be hounded until they put up or shut up. Unfortunately, they are liberal Democrats, so even if they kill somebody it's for "the greater good" as far as the media is concerned.

Posted by brooklyn | July 9, 2007 1:04 AM

As much as the attempt to smear a fine Republican like Fred Thompson is pathetic.

There is still reasonable concern with his voting record, his meager experience in Governing as a CEO, his lobby past.

The hype many have provided the fine Actor, doesn't quite match the Candidate.

How many times have we seen someone unfairly vilify the Bush Administration for being too moderate?

Now a real moderate Conservative Lobbyist - Lawyer - Senator named Fred Thompson may be given a pass by some of the most strident Conservatives.

Again, it doesn't seem like many are paying attention to the actual basis, but prefer the fashionable image.

Is Fred Thompson the best for the job?

He is far better than any Democrat...

But is he the ideal Conservative?

No, there is probably no one who could possibly fit the requirements of many who have become overt cynical.

Instead of simply denying some evidence of Fred Thompson's past, maybe some should be listening.

So far, I see a number of Conservative bloggers quick to see faults with Rudy and others, while they downplay the same for Mr. Thompson.

This seems foolish, as it is not going to help pick the best for the job.

Posted by Rose | July 9, 2007 3:37 AM

I won't vote for Thompson - he doesn't even remind me of what I am looking for - but attacks from the Left like this tripe will only make otherwise non-commital folks rush to his defense.

This kind of attack is trash, and really only makes it look like some Dims remember Fred's favors to Bill Clinton and maybe they really want him to be the GOP Candidate.

Nah! That ain't even in the parameter of their potential brainwork.

They just love mud-slinging.

Besides, we can see that McCain is still THEIR favorite - since the Dim Liberals are still excoriating every Conservative who turns their nose up at the little Napoleon wannabe.

Posted by hermie | July 9, 2007 6:54 AM

They smear his wife.

They smear his adult children.

They smear him.

What's next?
Smears against his younger kids ala Chief Justice Roberts?

Thompson must REALLY be making them sweat for them to be this desperate so early in the game.

Posted by wooga | July 9, 2007 2:47 PM

"How many times have we seen someone unfairly vilify the Bush Administration for being too moderate?
Now a real moderate Conservative Lobbyist - Lawyer - Senator named Fred Thompson may be given a pass by some of the most strident Conservatives."

Fred is a federalist - not a moderate. That means he believes the federal government only has "limited, enumerated powers." He has voted against all sorts of popular bills, simply because he believed the federal government had no authority to do such things. "Moderates" in the republican ranks are "compassionate conservatives," meaning lovers of big government.

Fred is the antithesis of the neocon; He is Ron Paul, without the "weed libertarian" or "tire wall compound" supporters.

Name just ONE candidate (excluding the arguable Paul) who has a truer "conservative" (NOT, "republican") voting record than Fred....

Posted by Daisy | July 10, 2007 9:44 AM

Could someone please post a link to Fred actually denying he worked for the abortion rights group? The only thing I've seen said he "didn't remember" working for them. "Didn't remember"......he should fit right in with the current Administration.

Posted by Rich Horton | July 10, 2007 11:42 AM

"Thompson re-enacted a coyboy {sic] death scene from one of his movies." He hadn't been in a coyboy [sic] movie by 1991. That is pretty damaging to the credibility of the Times story.
It's pretty clear that somebody is not telling the truth here, and now the onus is on the Times to provide harder evidence.

Maybe NFPRHA hired Jack Palance. After all, don't all character actors look alike?

Posted by tommylotto | July 10, 2007 4:21 PM

I think everyone is jumping the gun on the "fact" that Fred had not acted in a Western in 1991. What about “Keep the Change” which was Released in 1992. It was a Western with William Peresen and Jack Palance wherein Fred played a character named Otis. I am not sure that Otis was killed in either the final version or in any shot version (I have not seen it). However, I do know that films are usually release about a year after they are shot, and if this was released in 1992, this Western was probably shot in 1991 and was presumably very fresh in Fred’s mind when he was perportedly lobbying for abortion rights.