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Democrats lay off blacks { May 28 2003 }

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Black Democratic leaders protest minority layoffs at party headquarters
NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
2003 Associated Press

(05-28) 18:38 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --

Leading black Democrats in Congress and the national party are protesting the layoffs of 10 minority staffers at the party's headquarters.

The Democratic National Committee notified some committee members and lawmakers Wednesday that they were cutting the positions to save money and streamline operations in preparation for next year's presidential election.

"I'm just outraged," said Donna Brazile, who served as Al Gore's campaign manager in the last presidential election and is also the chairwoman of the DNC's Voting Rights Institute. "They started reading me the names and I said 'Oh, oh -- they're all black. I went through the roof."'

Brazile said the DNC is making the cuts as part of its goal to raise $10 million to $15 million to support the party's presidential nominee.

She proposed that the party cut payroll instead of laying off competent staffers.

DNC communications strategist Jim Mulhall said the committee has hired at least nine new minority staffers in the past month. The committee has more than 100 employees but did not have a count of the number of minority staffers Wednesday night.

"We are hiring professionals who have the experience to carry the battle against George Bush," Mulhall said. "It's about making the DNC the most effective political organization we can."

Several black Democratic leaders were trying to arrange a meeting with DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe to discuss the layoffs.

"I helped get Terry McAuliffe elected so I have a vested interest in making sure this party is whole and reflective of America," said DNC executive committee member Minyon Moore. "I must tell you that I'm a little bit stunned."

The news quickly spread to members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

"It's a time we need sensitivity because it's time to get ready for the next election," said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas.

Staff changes have been creating tension at the DNC as the party prepares to take on a popular incumbent president and nine candidates are battling for the Democratic nomination.

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2003 Associated Press

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