Clark: As a four-star general led Nato forces in Kosovo campaign
Former US Army General Wesley Clark has said he will return payment for speeches he made since declaring his candidacy in the presidential race.
The Democrat's campaign team consulted advisers about paid speeches delivered at at least three universities since Mr Clark entered the race three weeks ago.
A spokesman for the team, Mark Fabiani, defended payment for these speeches as appropriate.
But he said that "to avoid any distraction from the real issues that matter to Americans, General Clark has decided to return the payments".
The decision comes shortly after Mr Clark's campaign manager, Donnie Fowler, quit because of what was said to be a dispute over the direction of the Democratic presidential bid and what role he should play in it.
Mr Clark is widely tipped as a serious contender in the Democratic Party nomination battle and could pose a future threat to President George W Bush, particularly on matters of security and war.
All candidates are barred from accepting payment from corporations, labour unions, individuals or universities for campaign-related events under federal election laws.
In a personal message on his Clark 04 website, he informed supporters of Mr Fowler's departure.
"You've probably heard that Donnie Fowler, who helped us launch this ambitious campaign, has decided to move on," he said.
"We are now moving into the next phase of our campaign under the leadership of Eli Segal who has a distinguished record of campaign successes."
But Reuters news agency says confusion about roles in the campaign, schedules for the candidate and some of Mr Clark's public statements have persisted.
The payments issue is something Mr Clark's team appear to want cleared up early on.
Mr Clark, who has raised $3.5m in the last three weeks, is alleged to have discussed his candidacy during paid speeches to students.
Federal Electoral Commission spokesman Bob Biersack said it was not clear whether Mr Clark had done anything wrong.
He said the commission had not been asked to review the matter.