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Political operative leaving White House

- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Democratic operative whose hiring a month ago by the White House legal office raised conservative hackles is leaving to go back to work at the Democratic National Committee.

Shauna Daly, 29, will be the DNC's research director, returning to the fast-paced realm of bare-knuckles politics that associates said suits her best.

The White House has not decided whether to replace her, a spokesman said.

Miss Daly's hiring by the White House was met with concern by some conservative lawyers, since she did not have a legal degree but had been placed in the office of legal counsel. Some questioned whether her research skills might be put to use helping President Obama's White House go after political enemies.

During the presidential campaign, Miss Daly helped Mr. Obama respond to and prepare for political and personal attacks. She was deputy research director at the DNC from October 2005 to January 2007, before joining the Obama campaign.

Conservative and liberal lawyers and operatives said it was unusual for someone with Ms. Daly's background to be working in the White House counsel's office, though several Clinton-era lawyers said that nonlawyers worked in the office during their administration.

The White House insisted at the time of her hiring that Miss Daly's work would be limited to legal research, like that of a paralegal, and wouldn't stray into political muckraking.

David Axelrod, a senior White House adviser to Mr. Obama, had a hand in bringing Miss Daly to the campaign, and is thought to have been instrumental in bringing her to the White House.

Mr. Axelrod was also involved in Brad Woodhouse's recent placement at the DNC as communications director, sources said.