Maria Cino Criticized for Avoiding Pro-Abortion Connections

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 27, 2010   |   2:42PM   |   Washington, DC

Republican Party chairman candidate Maria Cino is coming under fire for releasing a new statement over the weekend that touts her pro-life views but avoids her past connections to a pro-abortion group.

Cino previously served on the board of directors of a pro-abortion women’s group, WISH List, that funds female Republican candidates who support legalized abortions and frequently vote for taxpayer funding of abortions. The former Republican Party campaign operative and convention chair also made numerous donations to the organization over a several year period from the late 1990s through 2001.

The statement from Cino says she is a strongly pro-life Catholic and essentially tries to explain away the donations and participation in WISH List as a method of building up the GOP, despite the pro-abortion mission.

“I am a life-long Catholic who strongly believes and supports the teachings of the Church. I believe in upholding the culture of Life, and therefore I strongly oppose legal abortion,” she says. “My critics point out my contributions to a very small group of candidates and a single political action committee whose views on abortion are different from my own, but who were Republican nonetheless.  I have committed my life to winning elections across the country, even in areas where the Democrats have traditionally been strong.”

Writing at National Review Online today, conservative columnist Maggie Gallagher calls the Cino explanation disingenuous.

“It’s quite possible and welcome for a pro-abortion Republican (or Democrat!) to change his or her views,” she explains. “But the information that Maria Cino, a candidate for RNC chair backed by many mainstream conservatives, is circulating about her record is misleading.”

“She’s claiming that she is a victim of false attacks, when in fact she has refused to acknowledge, explain, or deny the fact that she served on the board of directors for a pro-abortion GOP group (Wish List) and made personal donations to their pro-abortion PAC, as reported,” Gallagher continues.

“Her response is woefully inadequate to the main charge: No one I know who is deeply and ardently pro-life would participate in a pro-abortion PAC,” she concludes. “Come clean, Maria. Trust is a precious commodity. Don’t squander it.”

Cino gave the pro-abortion organization $250 in March 2001 and made two $500 contributions in August and September of 1997 and a $250 donation in September 1998, according to FEC records. has attempted twice to contact Cino for a comment and has not received a response.

Cino is vying for the chairman’s seat currently held by pro-life former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, who has disappointed many pro-life Republicans with his curious statements appearing to say there is a “right” to abortion. She faces four candidates who have made their pro-life views known in interviews with the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life women’s group.

“I believe, absolutely, that life begins at the moments of conception,” Wisconsin Republican Chairman Reince Priebus said. “It’s a core principle of mine.”

“If I was to be elected chairman of the RNC that would be something that I would have an even bigger obligation to uphold the position I have on abortion. And I think it would be a huge disappointment to God if I didn’t,” Priebus pledged.  “I am a 100 percent, Psalm 139 pro-life Republican.”

According to a Politico report, former Republican Party political director Gentry Collins “used the question to pivot to his criticism of Steele, arguing that a stronger RNC will be better able to support anti-abortion candidates” while former Michigan state GOP chairman Saul Anuzis “pointed to his past support of anti-abortion groups during his time as chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.”

Anuzis said, as a Catholic, he believes human life “begins at conception and ends at natural death.”

SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser also asked each of the candidates if he had contributed to a “pro-choice organization.” All three said they had not.

“Never, and I never would,” Collins responded. “I am pro-life. My wife and I are devoutly Catholic.”

Former Missouri GOP Chair Ann Wagner also interviewed with SBA and said being pro-life was “part of the fabric of who I am,” adding, “It’s how I was raised.”