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POLL-Arkansans back Clinton but also disbarment
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - Nearly half of U.S. President Clinton's fellow Arkansans believe he should lose his law license for denying an affair under oath but most also approve of his job performance, according to a poll published on Wednesday.
The poll of 622 registered voters in Arkansas found 47 percent agreed with a state ethics panel, which filed suit last month to have Clinton disbarred for denying a sexual liaison with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The Mason-Dixon poll, commissioned by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, found 42 percent said Clinton should be allowed to keep his law license while 11 percent were undecided.
But in the same poll, 39 percent of respondents gave Clinton a "good" rating on his job performance and 19 percent ranked his work as "excellent."
African-Americans were the most supportive of Clinton, with 91 percent assessing his job performance as "excellent" or "good".
Fifty-three percent of white voters gave Clinton the ranking of "excellent" or "good".
John Brown, a Republican state senator from Siloam Springs, Arkansas, said the poll reflected a "compartmentalization" among Arkansas voters.
"They're saying that if you're caught speeding on a highway, you ought to pay your ticket, even if they think you've done a good job," Brown said.
The disbarment action was brought by the Arkansas Supreme Court's Committee on Professional Conduct, which argued Clinton was "unfit" to be a lawyer because he denied in a deposition under oath having sexual contact with Lewinsky.
Clinton later acknowledged "an improper relationship" with Lewinsky and his misleading answer under oath led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives in December 1998. He was acquitted in a Senate trial in February 1999.
Both Clinton and his attorney have said disbarment is too extreme a penalty and that they will fight the action in court.
Clinton last practiced law in 1983, between his first and second terms as governor of Arkansas. He was governor from 1979 to 1981 and again from 1983 to 1992 when he was elected president.
Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Wednesday, July 19, 2000
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