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After Bill Clinton’s and Gary Condit’s sexual escapades with young female interns, the memory of Gary Hart’s monkey business seems downright quaint. By now, he is forgiven if not quite forgotten. But 15 years after a trip from Florida to Bimini sent his image — and presidential hopes — to tabloid heaven, Hart is still hard at work at redemption. For the renowned policy wonk, this takes the form of getting his ideas noticed and respected again: challenging the status quo and remaining a step ahead of the in-crowd on topics ranging from homeland security to foreign policy to education reform. Hart’s latest contribution to political thought is the coming release in book form of his recent doctoral thesis, “Restoration of the Republic: The Jeffersonian Ideal in 21st Century America.” So where do twenty-first century corporate clients fit into this picture? Just at the edges, it would seem. After representing Colorado in the Senate for two terms, Hart joined Denver’s Davis Graham & Stubbs. After six years there he jumped to a more unlikely perch: the tiny Denver office of Coudert Brothers, a New York firm better known for branching out to the east, to Europe, than for moving westward to the Rocky Mountains and beyond. Why Coudert? Says Hart: “Coudert was the first American firm in the Soviet Union in 1988. I was keen on doing business in the Soviet Union. I met [Mikhail] Gorbachev in 1986 and believed strongly that the Cold War was ending. I wanted to do what I could as a private citizen to build economic bridges to the Soviet Union.” Building economic bridges is good work if you can get it, but it doesn’t usually pay the rent in Denver. At the end of March, Coudert was shutting down its outpost. Firm chairman Steven Beharrell cited the slow economy. Some of the office’s eight lawyers other than Hart were offered positions in Coudert’s other western offices, but only one accepted. The others are moving to local firms. And that leaves Coudert a Denver legal staff of exactly one of counsel, whose interest in such clients as Baby Bell Qwest Communications International Inc. and its spin-off, Callahan Associates International LLC, is sometimes eclipsed by his policy and public service urges. But that’s okay with Beharrell. Hart is valuable to Coudert, the chairman says, because he is one of the firm’s top-five travelers to Europe, Asia, and Central America, as well as being a confidant of many CEOs. Connections are made, and worker bees can move in for the day-to-day lawyering. Hart prefers his of counsel status. “It has given me freedom from the duties and responsibilities of partnership,” he says with a laugh. “I am sure many partners would be pleased if I billed.” Freedom from partnership means freedom to think, speak, and write. Hart began his rise from discredited politician to sage by writing several well-received if modest-selling policy books. He even penned a spy novel under a pseudonym. Hart’s occasional public-service stints peaked notably last fall. He served as cochairman of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, which issued a series of reports before September 11, 2001, warning of just such a threat and calling for national security reforms. The press barely noticed — until afterward. And now comes the Jeffersonian thesis, which Hart wrote while earning a doctorate from Oxford University last year (he already holds law and divinity degrees from Yale University). The thesis is based on a rarely examined but large volume of Thomas Jefferson’s letters. One Rhodes scholar at Oxford, Micah Schwartzman, fondly recalls his 64-year-old classmate. “Hart left a big impression on me,” Schwartzman recalled in an e-mail. “It makes you wonder whether someone who cares about ideas as much as he does can be a politician today.” Can he? Well, sort of, in his own creative way.

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