Washington Prowler

Betrayal Trail

Clark betrays Lehane betrays Kerry betrays Terry... Also: Another war the Dems started.

By 2.12.04

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CLARK DID WHAT?!
Senior staff to Wesley Clark rose in objection on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning on news from their former candidate that he intended to endorse Sen. John Kerry for the Democratic nomination.

Clark told his senior staff that he had talked to Kerry and that he intended to back his former competitor. Clark never spoke to other Democratic hopefuls Sen. John Edwards and former Vermont Gov. Howie Dean.

Perhaps the most stung by Clark's decision was his senior adviser Chris Lehane, who prior to joining Clark's staff had briefly advised Kerry's campaign.

Lehane is now the focus of a media whirlwind over negative stories about Kerry he is said to have spun to reporters over the past few weeks.

Clark's staff was made up of a number former Bill Clinton adviser and campaign employees, many of whom were led to believe that Clark would stay in the race through Super Tuesday. "It was obvious he wasn't going to win the nomination, but we were given every indication that he was going to stay in this. The timing is just surprising, that's all," says a now former Clark staffer.

Lehane was vocal in his opposition to Clark's endorsement of Kerry, says the former Clark staffer. And some believed that the rumors about alleged Kerry extracurricular activity that hit the Internet on Thursday came from angry Clark staffers seeking to scuttle the endorsement.

In reality, though, stories about Kerry's behavior behind closed doors appear to be coming off of Capitol Hill, where Kerry is probably known best.

"Everyone up here talks, and in the case of the stories that are now developing, we've known about this stuff for years. It was only a matter of time," says one staffer for a Democratic Senator from a mid-Atlantic state. "Reporters have been feeding off this stuff for months up here."

THEY STARTED IT
While the Senate sergeant of arms looks into Democratic charges that Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee unethically accessed open Democratic staff computer files and printed out internal staff memos, perhaps he could also look into how Democratic Judiciary Committee staffers did similar things to Republicans. For example, according to a former Democratic committee staffer, they had used interns in the summer of 2002 and 2003 to check up on Republican strategy, sifting through recycle and shredding bins for documents that might give them insight into GOP planning.

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