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Democrats Won't Fire Blacks

Plans to trim minorities from the party's staff are changed after key members complain.

May 30, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee backed off plans to lay off 10 black workers Thursday, a day after outraged black party leaders complained about a reduction in minority staffers.

Black party leaders placed angry calls to DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe after they were given a list of 10 staffers who would be cut to save money and boost the campaign fund for the party's presidential nominee.

Donna Brazile, chairwoman of the DNC's Voting Rights Institute and the leading critic of the layoffs, said McAuliffe assured her on Thursday that he would not approve a cut list that included only black staffers.

"I'm glad that they are backing away from this," said Brazile, who was Al Gore's presidential campaign manager. "I'm glad that they are reversing course because this would have been the wrong decision. The Democratic Party would have ended up with egg on its face."

DNC communications strategist Jim Mulhall said Thursday that although the leaders were told 10 staffers were going to be laid off, the information was incorrect. He said the number of layoffs had not been determined but that it would be less than 10.

"The DNC has a strong commitment to diversity, to making sure that the DNC reflects America and the Democratic Party," Mulhall said.

He had said on Wednesday that the committee had hired at least nine minority staffers in the last month, but on Thursday he said that the number was incorrect -- eight staffers had been hired and five were black. Mulhall said more people would be hired in coming months.

The DNC is trying to save money and streamline operations in preparation for next year's presidential election. Mulhall said the staff has been reduced by a third since last year.

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