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DNC consults lawyers after Drudge Report story on Dean

John Byrne
Published: Monday May 22, 2006

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The Democratic National Committee consulted its attorneys Monday after a story posted by online heavyweight Matt Drudge claimed that DNC chairman Howard Dean intervened in New Orleans' recent mayoral race, RAW STORY can reveal.

In an exclusive Sunday evening, The Drudge Report claimed that Dean threw his support behind mayoral candidate and sitting Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu (D-LA) over sitting mayor Ray Nagin. DNC Communications director Karen Finney said the report was "absolutely false."

Finney told RAW STORY Monday she had just gotten off the phone with Joe Sandler of Sandler, Reiff & Young, the committee's attorney, and says the DNC is exploring legal options. A second DNC staffer confirmed the account.

"I have called our lawyer to see what if any legal actions we may have," Finney remarked. "The DNC does not as a policy get involved in Democratic primaries."

Finney seemed stunned by the Drudge claim. The Committee's involvement in the New Orleans race, she said, was limited to get out the vote efforts and placing poll watchers to ensure residents got an opportunity to vote. The DNC also set up a toll-free 800 number to help displaced residents locate their polling area.

"We did have poll watchers out to make sure people werenít disenfranchised but it wasnít on behalf of any candidate," she remarked. "Itís completely outrageous."

"The only thing that the DNC did was a campaign helping ensure that displaced voters had an opportunity to vote," she added. "It wasnít in support of any candidate or frankly any party... We focused on helping people find out where they needed to get out to vote."

Ironically, the DNC's effort may have actually increased support for Nagin -- those who voted by absentee ballot were more likely to support Nagin than Landrieu. An email to Matt Drudge was not immediately returned.

The Drudge story is available here.