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Charles Bakaly: A New Star at the Independent Counsel's Office

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Related Links
_ Starr Accused of Starting PR Attack on Leaks (Washington Post, May 17)

_ Starr Catches a Flack (Washington Post, April 8)

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By David Segal
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 18, 1998; Page F09

He surfs, occasionally sports a ponytail, and he digs Metallica.

Charles Bakaly doesn't seem like the sort of guy you'd catch partying with Kenneth Starr. But the 42-year-old California native and lawyer is now chief spokesman for the independent counsel's office, a job that lands him at ground zero in Washington's most-watched scandal drama.

Though Starr's approval ratings are, um, really really low, Bakaly said his role isn't to buff the former judge's image.

"My title is counselor," Bakaly said. "I advise Starr on investigative strategy and communication of the office's work to the American people through the media. We've decided we will aggressively try to correct misinformation out there, and we will try to make as much information available to the public as we're allowed to do."

Bakaly, who is known to arrive at work at 4 a.m., has punched his ticket in Republican circles for years. He was director of press advance during Ronald Reagan's first term and later worked at Treasury under James A. Baker III. After moving back to Los Angeles, he wound up at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and bonded with partner Donald Smaltz, who eventually lured Bakaly to Washington again when Smaltz headed up the independent counsel investigation of former agriculture secretary Mike Espy.

Currently, Bakaly is answering as many as 100 phone calls a day and helping to build a Web site for Starr's office so that curious citizens can quickly download the office's latest press release. As for hints about when Starr will wrap up his investigation, Bakaly isn't giving any away.

"I'm going to stay as long as Judge Starr wants me to," Bakaly said.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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