Shauna Daly, ‘Partisan Dirt-Digger,’ Obama Paralegal
Has Barack Obama politicized the White House counsel’s office? Maybe so. Jon Ward for Washington Times:
Shauna Daly, a 29-year-old Democratic operative, was named last month to the new job of White House counsel research director. Though she is inside one of the most powerful legal offices in the land, Miss Daly holds no law degree and doesn’t list any legal training on her resume. Her sole experience has been as an opposition researcher for Democratic political campaigns: She helped dig up dirt on rivals, or on her own nominee to prepare for attacks.
The addition to White House counsel Greg Craig’s staff has alarmed some Republicans, who consider it a politicization of the office, and has irritated others who say that Democratic lawmakers who railed against Republican opposition researchers in legal positions in the past are now silent.
A number of conservative and liberal lawyers and operatives confirmed that it is unusual for someone with Miss Daly’s background to be working in the White House counsel’s office, though some Clinton-era lawyers said that administration had non-lawyers working in the office.
The White House insists Miss Daly’s work will be limited to legal research, like that of a paralegal, and won’t stray into political muckraking.
But she doesn’t have paralegal training? LinkedIn has her as Deputy Research Director at Obama for America and previously as Deputy Research Director at Democratic National Committee; Research Director at Gifford Miller for Mayor. Ward adds, “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.” So, she’s got research skills. Legal skills? Not so much.
Ward sets up a scenario where her skills would be both useful and legitimate:
On the Obama campaign, Miss Daly specialized in preparing for political attacks against Mr. Obama. Thus, one scenario in which her skills would be useful to the White House would involve setting up a “murder board operation,” in which political nominees are subjected to simulated political attacks in order to prepare for the real thing.
Team Obama shoots it down, though:
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.
She’s a party loyalist and worked hard on the campaign, so her getting an appointed position as a reward is hardly unusual. And she’s probably not the first non-lawyer to work at the Counsel’s office. Still, this doesn’t seem like a move designed to change how Washington does business.