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Bruce Robert Lindsey (1948–)

Bruce R. Lindsey is a prominent Arkansas attorney and longtime friend and associate of Bill Clinton. Having first met Clinton when they both worked in the office of Senator J. William Fulbright, Lindsey went on to serve as one of the president’s top aides.

Bruce Robert Lindsey was born on March 27, 1948, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Robert Sours Lindsey and Grace Grimme Lindsey. He has one sister. Lindsey’s father was one of the most influential attorneys in Little Rock, as well as a major figure in the city’s Presbyterian Church. Lindsey grew up in Little Rock and received his undergraduate degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, followed by a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington DC.

Almost immediately upon graduation from law school, Lindsey entered the political world, serving as legal counsel to Governor David Pryor. After Pryor was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976, Lindsey followed him to Washington, filling the position of legislative director from 1977 to 1981. Lindsey then returned to Little Rock and joined his father’s firm, Wright Lindsey Jennings. While he held no formal political office, he was a trusted confidant and unofficial advisor to Governor Bill Clinton throughout his time in office; Lindsey even took Clinton into the family law firm after the young governor lost his bid for reelection in 1980.

Once Clinton began his pursuit of the presidency, Lindsey took a leave of absence from the law firm, assuming the title of national campaign director. In this role, he became Clinton’s constant companion, rarely leaving the candidate’s side as they traveled from one primary state to another.

During the Clinton presidency, Lindsey’s formal titles included assistant to the president and deputy counsel to the president, as well as director of the White House Office of Personnel. He served Clinton in countless official and unofficial ways, from being a late-night card-playing companion to a sounding board and troubleshooter. Drawing upon his background in labor law, Lindsey was particularly involved in efforts to settle strikes by airline workers, Major League baseball players, and United Parcel Service (UPS) workers. He traveled extensively with the president and was deeply involved in major personnel decisions, including judicial appointments.

Lindsey aimed to stay under the radar, but his public profile inevitably grew as the man some called the “president’s protector” was forced to deal with the many controversies, personal and political, that dogged the president’s tenure. As close as Lindsey was to President Clinton, many observers argued that he had to have been aware of some of the goings-on at the White House, and at one point Lindsey was a focus of independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation. Nothing ultimately came of it, although more than a few congressional Republicans sought to tie him to some of the misdeeds of which Clinton was accused.

Following the Clinton presidency, Lindsey served for a decade as the chief executive officer of the William J. Clinton Foundation; he also became a member of its board of directors. He returned to his law firm, becoming “of counsel.”

Lindsey’s private legal practice has been focused in the areas of labor, employment, and civil rights. He is a member of both the American Bar Association and the Arkansas Bar Association, and he is licensed to practice law in the state of Arkansas and the District of Columbia. Lindsey’s wife, Bev Lindsey, has also long been active in politics, serving at one time as the presidential campaign scheduler. The couple has two daughters and lives in Little Rock.

For additional information:
“Bruce R. Lindsey, Of Counsel.” Wright Lindsey Jennings. https://www.wlj.com/attorneys/bruce-r-lindsey (accessed November 2, 2017).

Chaney, Rachel O’Neal. “Bruce Robert Lindsey.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, November 8, 2009, pp. 1D, 6D.

Ifill, Gwen. “The Man at Clinton’s Elbow Works to Fend Off Trouble.” New York Times, January 25, 1993. Online at http://www.nytimes.com/1993/01/25/us/the-man-at-clinton-s-elbow-works-to-fend-off-trouble.html (accessed November 2, 2017).

LaFraniere, Sharon. “The Man at the Portal of the President’s Past.” Washington Post, July 7, 1994. Online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/lindsey070794.htm (accessed November 2, 2017).

Marcus, Ruth. “Clinton’s ‘Captain of the Defense.’” Washington Post, February 5, 1998. Online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/lindsey020598.htm (accessed November 2, 2017).

Sabin, Warwick. “Coffee with Clinton’s Consigliere.” Arkansas Times, November 11, 2004. Online at https://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/coffee-with-clintons-consigliere/Content?oid=964720 (accessed November 2, 2017).

William H. Pruden III
Ravenscroft School

Last Updated 11/2/2017

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