ATLANTA -- Some of Matthew Glavin's greatest successes have come in court.
He saw the U.S. Supreme Court rule his way when he sued last year to prevent the federal government from using Census Bureau sampling data to reapportion House seats. He pushed the Arkansas Supreme Court to move ahead on the case of President Clinton's possible disbarment.
Now Glavin, who resigned Wednesday as president of the conservative Southeastern Legal Foundation, is in court for a decidedly different and personally painful reason -- to fight a public indecency charge for the second time in four years.
News of the charges led to Glavin's resignation and rattled supporters of the Atlanta-based public policy law group.
"I'm absolutely shocked and dismayed that these sort of allegations would come up," said Rep. Bob Barr, the foundation's president from 1990 to 1994. "It's just terribly distressing. If this took place, as I've seen it reported in the paper, the conduct itself is absolutely shocking."
Glavin is accused of masturbating in front of a male undercover federal officer and fondling the officer May 17 on a park trail in suburban Atlanta. He appeared in federal court Tuesday, but his hearing was postponed.
"I feel sorry for the guy," said Democratic strategist James Carville, a Clinton adviser. "But any time you attack the sexual conduct of someone else, you leave yourself pretty vulnerable."
Glavin, 47, pleaded no contest to a similar charge in 1996 and was sentenced to probation and a fine. He has denied the current charges and said in his resignation letter he was leaving "to protect my family and the foundation." Glavin did not return telephone calls Thursday for comment.
In recent years, the foundation has successfully battled government affirmative action programs and filed a brief with the Supreme Court on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America when that organization successfully sought to ban gay scout leaders.
Glavin was an early player in the push to have Clinton disbarred in Arkansas for allegedly lying under oath about Lewinsky in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. His resignation won't affect the Arkansas case, which is now before a state judge.
But one of Glavin's former colleagues said the indecency charge could hinder fund-raising efforts at the foundation, which relies largely on contributions. The group raised $1.75 million in 1998.
"People might see that and say, 'I like the cause, but I don't want to associate with those people,"' said Rogers Wade, head of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, where Glavin used to work. But Wade also predicted that once Glavin fades from the operation, the legal foundation will bounce back.
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