STEM CELL CONTRIBUTIONS AT ISSUE
"It's like running on an anti-pornography platform and taking contributions from Hustler"
"If you're chair of the Appropriations Committee, you're going to get contributions from everybody under the sun"
Missouri Right to Life is raising questions about Sen. Gary Nodler's "pro-life" credentials a day after he announced his candidacy for Congress, pointing to contributions the Budget Chair has received from pro-embryonic stem cell groups over the past two years.
Right to Life political action committee chairman Dave Plemmons estimates that Nodler's two campaign committees have received at least $12,475 from what he calls "two pro-cloning committees" -- Supporters of Health Research and Treatments and the Life Science Fund of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
Nodler's January 2009 campaign finance report shows the most recent donations: a $2,000 contribution from Supporters of Health Research and Treatments and a $2,000 check from the Life Science Fund. Both were made in October 2008.
"I've got no qualms about his claims to be pro-life on abortion, but if you are basing some of your candidacy's draw on being pro-life on the cloning issue and the embryonic stem cell issue, why are you taking so many thousands of dollars from people you say you're against," said Plemmons in an interview with The Notebook Friday.
"It doesn't work that way. It's like running on an anti-pornography platform and taking contributions from Hustler," Plemmons added.
In his Congressional campaign kick-off in Springfield Thursday, Nodler made a short four-word statement on the stem cell issue: "I oppose human cloning."
Nodler spokesperson Gregg Keller wouldn't address the donations specifically, but said that Sen. Nodler "is proudly and unabashedly pro-life and opposes human cloning."
"That's why pro-abortion activists like NARAL have branded him an enemy of theirs and why he has been elected and re-elected with huge pluralities in one Missouri's most pro-life Senate districts," Keller said.
But Plemmons called the donations "dirty money," and noted that while Right to Life has made no endorsement in the 7th District Congressional race yet, "Southwest Missourians deserve a truly pro-life representative in Washington."
Nodler and Right to Life have clashed before on legislative issues and whether funding to universities can be restricted from being used for "life sciences" purposes.
According to KMOX, Nodler accused Missouri Right to Life of lying on the Senate floor on March 5th. "Forget what you hear from Missouri Right to Life because they lie! They misrepresent legislators. They misrepresent our votes. They misdirect the people of our state," Nodler is reported saying.
Missourians United for Life, another anti-abortion organization that was formed in response to some lawmakers complaints with Right to Life's "pro-life" criteria, came to Nodler's defense.
"We would describe him as pro-life," said Ed Martin of Missourians United for Life. "He's been especially helpful in passing laws limiting the number of abortions in Missouri. He's been very open to encouraging limits on taxpayer dollars going to abortion services, human cloning," he added.
Martin said the contributions in question would be something "we'd like to sit down and talk more about," he doesn't necessarily hold them against Nodler.
"If someone takes Stowers money and they still vote our way, I don't really care," Martin said, referring to the Kansas City biomedical research center. "What I know is that Gary Nodler has been a reliable pro-life vote. And if you're the chair of the Appropriations Committee, you're going to get contributions from everybody under the sun," Martin added.
Plemmons said that explanation isn't sufficient, especially when Nodler made abortion and cloning issues key elements in his campaign Thursday.
"As Appropriations Chair, why didn't he say no to the cloning people about those contributions? That's the golden question," Plemmons said.