Republican state Senate candidate Arie Friedman says donations he made to a group opposed to abortion are not what they appear on the surface and don't reflect his position on the issue.
Friedman, running against Democrat Julie Morrison in the 29th Senate District, contends the cash he gave to Family-PAC in 2010 and 2011 was for the organization's fight against U.S. patent law reforms, not to help its anti-abortion efforts. The Highland Park pediatrician is promoting himself as an abortion-rights candidate.
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"I'm pro-choice," Friedman said during a Daily Herald editorial board interview. "I don't believe we should fund elective abortions. Abortions with medical reasons should be funded and are funded through Medicaid and the like. I'm supportive of an effective parental notification law."
But Morrison says Friedman's previous actions, such as the gifts to Family-PAC, show he doesn't really favor abortion rights. She said Friedman's campaign stance on the issue is a result of surveys indicating 29th Senate District residents favor abortion rights.
"I'm afraid that Dr. Friedman is just trying to be an opportunist and trying to go with the flow on this and trying to change his stripes a little bit to be more electable," Morrison said.
Friedman and Morrison are on the Nov. 6 ballot seeking to represent a 29th Senate District that includes parts of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Wheeling, Mount Prospect, Highland Park, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Deerfield, North Chicago and Glencoe.
Democratic state Sen. Susan Garrett of Lake Forest, who has represented the district for a decade, is not seeking re-election and is supporting Morrison as her successor. Morrison, elected as West Deerfield Township's supervisor in 1997, said she's the "100 percent" abortion-rights candidate for 29th Senate District voters.
Federal political committee disclosure documents show Friedman gave $500 to Chicago-based Family-PAC in May 2010 and $250 in May 2011.
Launched in 1992, Family-PAC touts itself as a political action committee that has played a significant role in defeating many proposed Illinois tax increases and "pro-abortion legislation."
Congressional records show Family-PAC was among the organizations that unsuccessfully opposed the patent reform. President Barack Obama signed the America Invents Act into law on Sept. 16, 2011, which proponents say is supposed to encourage innovation, job creation and economic growth.
Friedman said he and his liberal father, Gene, a patent attorney, opposed the America Invents Act and found conservative Family-PAC to be the only Illinois group that tried to defeat the law.
Friedman, a small-scale inventor, said his $750 went to help pay for Family-PAC lobbyists who were against "an egregious giveaway to big corporations"
"These organizations are not one thing only," he said.
Morrison, however, said Friedman's contributions to Family-PAC are not all that call into question whether he backs abortion rights.
She said her contention is backed by Friedman's past support of Tea Partyer Joe Walsh of McHenry, who was elected to Congress in 2010. Morrison said she's never thought of the Tea Party as favoring abortion rights.
"You're kind of known by the company you keep, if I could say that," she said.
In April 2010, after losing the Republican primary for the 10th U.S. House seat to Robert Dold, Friedman was a panelist at a Wauconda forum on health care reform. The event was organized by then-candidate Walsh.
Friedman and the two other panelists opposed the federal health care law pushed by President Barack Obama and backed Walsh's campaign at the event.
• Daily Herald staff writer Russell Lissau contributed to this report.