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The Nation

Clark Musters Out of Lobbyist Corps

The Democratic candidate also needs to register to vote as a Democrat in Arkansas.

October 02, 2003|Nick Anderson | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Since his debut as a Democratic presidential candidate, Wesley Clark has drawn notice largely on the strength of his record as a war-winning, four-star general. But his resume includes another item with less political appeal: Washington lobbyist.

On Wednesday, two weeks after Clark formally joined the race for the White House, his campaign filed papers at the Capitol to withdraw his registration as a paid lobbyist for an information-services company based in Little Rock, Ark.

Also Wednesday, a campaign spokeswoman acknowledged that Clark had not yet taken care of another step in his rapid transition to presidential candidate: registering as a Democrat at home in Pulaski County, Ark.

"He fully intends to sign on the dotted line and fill out the paperwork," Clark spokeswoman Kym Spell said, "but in the last 12 days he hasn't had time to do that."

A supervisor in the Pulaski County registrar's office, Sara Osborne, said Clark declined to state a party affiliation when he submitted his voter registration application in December 2001. But Osborne said Clark requested a Democratic ballot while voting in the state's May 2002 primary election -- a common procedure for Democrats in a state with an open primary system.

Clark appeared Wednesday with California Gov. Gray Davis in Los Angeles to urge a "no" vote in Tuesday's recall election. He also appeared with Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to boost his bid to replace Davis if the incumbent is ousted.

In addition, Clark worked the Hollywood money circuit. He attended two fund-raisers for his campaign, one held by television producer Norman Lear and another by actors Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson.

In Washington, questions about Clark's party allegiance and lobbying experience gave rival Democratic campaigns an opening to criticize the general who led NATO in the 1999 war in Kosovo.

Robert Gibbs, a spokesman for Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, another presidential contender, noted that when Clark joined the 2004 race on Sept. 17, he was still technically a registered lobbyist but not formally a registered Democrat. "The paperwork got messed up?" Gibbs asked.

An aide to Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) also jabbed at Clark, who in May 2001 gave a speech praising two recent Republican presidents and top personnel in the current Bush administration. "My only question is whether he's a Democratic lobbyist or a Republican lobbyist," said Gephardt spokesman Erik Smith.

Clark registered as a lobbyist for Acxiom Corp. last March, records show. His declared issue: "Using information to improve U.S. security." In mid-August, he reported $50,000 in lobbying income. Acxiom's Web site says Clark joined the company's board of directors in 2001.

The New York Post reported Wednesday that Clark had not withdrawn from the Capitol's lobbying corps. In response, the Clark campaign swiftly moved to take him off the congressional registration list.

"It's done," said Clark spokeswoman Spell. "Move on. Next."

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