Stephen A. Smith

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Stephen Austin Smith (born May 15, 1949) is a communications professor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville who served in the Arkansas House of Representatives in the early 1970s and later became an aide to Governor and U.S. President Bill Clinton.[1] He is a scholar of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In 1966, Republican Danny L. Patrick of Madison County in the northwestern portion of his state, had become the youngest person ever elected to the Arkansas legislature.[2] Four years later, 21-year-old Stephen Smith had not only unseated Patrick but taken the "youngest legislator" appellation for himself. In the campaign, Smith challenged Patrick for having been "absent or not voting” on 263 recorded roll calls during the past legislative session. Smith later wrote that this issue was "a cheap shot, but an effective one. It was probably about average for all legislators, and most of the votes were on minor amendments or budget bills that had passed without opposition." Smith estimated that Patrick outspent him, with financial support by a margin of eighty to one from Winthrop Rockefeller, the first Republican governor of Arkansas in the 20th century by eighty-to-one. Smith later worked in the doomed George McGovern presidential campaign in Arkansas in 1972 against then U.S. President Richard M. Nixon. In 1979, Smith became the executive assistant to newly elected Governor Bill Clinton. When Clinton was defeated for reelection in 1980 by Democrat-turned-Republican Frank D. White, Smith left active politics for a career in college teaching.[3] ​Clinton reclaimed the governorship in 1982 and held it until he resigned after being elected president in 1992.

Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr investigated Smith as part of the Whitewater scandal in the early 1990s. Smith remained loyal to Clinton and confessed that he had taken a $65,000 loan from the Whitewater figure David Hale. The loan was to have gone to a "disadvantaged" political consulting firm that Smith operated in the 1980s. The money, as it turned out, was really an overdue bank loan that Smith had signed with Jim Guy Tucker, Clinton's successor as governor. On June 8, 1995, he pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of conspiracy.​[4]

As Clinton left the White House on January 20, 2001, succeeded by Republican George W. Bush, he issued on his last morning in office 140 pardons, including one for Smith.​[5]

Using the pseudonym, John Wilkes, Smith wrote The Star Chamber, a fictional work about his experiences.

Before he came to Arkansas, Smith had resided in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Stephen A. Smith. Mylife.com. Retrieved on March 26, 2020.
  2. Danny Lee Patrick. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on March 26, 2020.
  3. Stephen A. Smith, "People, Power, and Realpoliticks in the Provinces," acjournal.org,material no longer on-line.
  4. "Caught in the Whitewater Net," CBS News, May 19, 1998.
  5. "Would You Pardon Them?," Time, February 18, 2001.