LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The five-year suspension of Bill Clinton’s Arkansas law license in connection with the Monica Lewinsky affair ends this week, but an aide declined Tuesday to say whether the ex-president is seeking reinstatement.
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The Arkansas Supreme Court's Committee on Professional Conduct, citing court policy, would not say whether Clinton is seeking reinstatement. Clinton spokesman Jay Carson said the former president has other matters pending.
"I can say right off the bat that he's focused on the work of his foundation, which among many activities is treating hundreds of thousands of AIDS patients around the world, fighting childhood obesity here at home and helping tsunami and hurricane victims," Carson said.
On Clinton's last full day as president, Jan. 19, 2001, he agreed to a five-year license suspension. The agreement came on the condition that Whitewater prosecutors would not pursue criminal charges against him after he lied under oath about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Deal with Starr
Clinton accepted the penalty under a deal with Special Prosecutor Robert Ray, a successor to Kenneth W. Starr. The panel voted to disbar Clinton for five years and impose a $250,000 fine. Clinton has paid the fine.
Any lawyer under suspension can ask for reinstatement at any time but even after the suspension period a reinstatement is not automatic. Clinton would have to apply for reinstatement and his application would have to be reviewed by a committee, said Stark Ligon, executive director of the professional conduct committee. Ligon would not say whether Clinton has applied for reinstatement.
Clinton, who published his bestselling memoir in 2004 and commands hefty speaking fees on the lecture circuit, does not have an economic need to practice law. The former president has also been active in numerous causes connected to his non-profit foundation, from HIV and AIDS advocacy to Hurricane Katrina and tsunami relief efforts.
No need for cash
According to financial disclosure reports filed last year by his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., the Clintons reported having $5 million to $25 million in a joint bank account, thanks in part to the former president's speaking fees and his memoir.
The former president made $875,000 in speaking fees in 2004, according to the financial report.
Former U.S. Sen. David Pryor, the dean of a University of Arkansas public service school named for Clinton, said he doesn't know if Clinton needs to practice law in the state anymore.
Pryor said the president, who lives in New York, still keeps close tabs on his home state but also has a full agenda for his post-presidency.
"I think he's terribly busy doing what he's been doing," Pryor said. "I don't know what type of law he would be practicing."
First such ban
The professional conduct committee sued Clinton in 2000, marking the first time an effort had been made to strip a sitting president of his law license. New York in 1974 disbarred President Nixon after Nixon resigned over the Watergate break-in and coverup.
Clinton settled the Arkansas case three days before he was due to answer 42 questions posed by the committee -- including several on whether he gave false or misleading statements over his relationship with Lewinsky.
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