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If that is part of her job description, the timing of Miss Daly’s hiring would appear to be a response to problems the Obama administration has experienced with several of its nominees, most recently the withdrawal of Tom Daschle for secretary of health and human services because of a tax problem.

Although the White House confirmed that the counsel’s office has taken over the vetting process, it said Miss Daly has not been involved in any vetting of political appointees and will not do any work on future vetting. A separate team of people inside the counsel’s office will handle that task, the White House said.

Miss Daly has been doing opposition research for Democratic politicians since just after graduation in 2001 from Smith College. She began in 2002 as a researcher for Sen. Tim Johnson’s re-election campaign in South Dakota, and in 2004 she was research director for Betty Castor’s unsuccessful run at a Florida seat in the U.S. Senate.

In 2005, she served as research director for the unsuccessful New York mayoral bid of Gifford Miller, then the council speaker. From October 2005 to January 2007, before joining the Obama campaign, she was the deputy research director at the Democratic National Committee.

Mark Corrallo, a communications director at the Justice Department early in the Bush administration, said he was upset not about politicization but what he called a double standard in media coverage.

“If this had been a Republican, then we’d be hearing the howls: ‘How can you put a guy who worked in opposition research at the White House counsel’s office?’ ”

Mr. Corrallo raised the example of the political firestorm Democrats raised in 2007 when President Bush tried to name a Republican political-opposition researcher, Timothy Griffin, to a senior Justice Department job, the U.S. attorney for Arkansas’ Eastern District.

Democrats attacked Mr. Griffin because he was a former Republican National Committee operative who also worked for senior Bush adviser Karl Rove at the White House, before the U.S. attorney in eastern Arkansas was fired to make way for Mr. Griffin.

The maneuvering drew national attention because it became part of the scandal over the removal by top Justice officials of seven other U.S. attorneys across the country for questionable reasons.

But Mr. Corrallo, who has a long background in Republican politics, including work as a spokesman for Mr. Rove during the CIA leak scandal, pointed out that unlike Miss Daly, Mr. Griffin has a law degree and extensive legal experience as a judge advocate general in the U.S. military.

“Tim had served on a congressional committee as a lawyer. He also prosecuted cases for 10 years in the Army. He’s a real lawyer,” Mr. Corrallo said. “But because he had worked at the RNC and the White House political office, he was a hack.

“Now come back to this woman, who is not a lawyer, in a newly created position in the White House counsel’s office. It’s amazing what they’re doing. Her background is pure politics, and they put her in the White House counsel’s office,” he said.

Several Democratic senators who criticized Mr. Griffin - Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Charles E. Schumer of New York, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island - did not respond to requests for comment.

The White House did not make Miss Daly available for comment.

But Democratic lawyers with experience in the White House defended the move.

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