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Texas walkout: Lieberman probes White House role

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Texas Democrats wave from the steps of the state Capitol in Austin after their return from a self-imposed exile in May.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman sent a letter Sunday to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card asking whether he contacted any federal agencies about last month's walkout by Democratic state legislators in Texas.

Lieberman, the senior Democrat on the Governmental Affairs Committee, said he wants to know whether "any White House officer or employee contacted anyone seeking information about or federal assistance in Texas' search for Democratic legislators."

The lawmakers staged a four-day walkout in mid-May, successfully killing a Republican-backed redistricting plan they said would cost them five seats in Congress.

The 51 House Democrats went over the border to Ardmore, Oklahoma, just outside the jurisdiction of state police sent to take them back to Austin for the vote.

The walkout prompted accusations that the federal Department of Homeland Security had helped Texas authorities searching for the Democrats.

Connecticut senator Lieberman asked Card to give him lists of all contacts and actions White House employees might have made about the Texas walkout.

"If any White House official or employee contacted other federal agencies or employees on this issue, please provide the same information about those contacts," he wrote.

Lieberman said Card called him June 3 to say U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay had spoken with President Bush and White House adviser Karl Rove about the Texas dispute. Card also said he asked others at the White House about the matter "and found no inappropriate action had been taken."

Card apparently told Lieberman he did not intend to respond to his letter in writing, which Lieberman said would be inappropriate.

"In a matter of this significance, where questions have been raised about whether scarce homeland security resources were misused for political purposes, the public should not be forced to rely on private reassurances," the senator wrote.


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