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Theresa LePore, the Palm Beach County elections supervisor whose office is under severe national scrutiny over a disputed presidential election ballot, is a nonpartisan and dedicated public servant who did nothing wrong, one of her lawyers said Friday. Hoping to shield herself from the furious battle for the White House between Al Gore and George W. Bush, LePore has retained Bruce Rogow, a Fort Lauderdale constitutional lawyer and law professor, and Robert Montgomery of Montgomery & Larmoyeux of West Palm Beach to represent her. Since Tuesday, several lawsuits have been filed in state and federal court on behalf of voters who claim they were confused by a presidential election ballot designed and distributed by LePore’s office. Both LePore and her office have been named as defendants. The sole suit filed in federal court was withdrawn. A confusing ballot design, voters claim, led them to vote for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan instead of for Gore. But in an interview, Rogow characterized those lawsuits as premature, inaccurate and poorly prepared. “She followed the election laws,” said Rogow, who teaches at Nova Southeastern University. “One thing I will say is that the disorganization and premature litigation is kind of surprising and disappointing,” he said. “Under the statute, the time to file this litigation is when the canvassing board certifies the results.” Rogow reiterated what LePore has argued since the ballot controversy burst upon the national scene Tuesday: One month before the voting, LePore showed her proposed ballot to the candidates’ campaign operatives, and no one objected to the design. “An interesting fact here, too, is the page proof of the ballot had been sent out Oct. 10 to all of the candidates and to the party representatives,” Rogow said. “She got that out to everybody. People did have a chance to see what this would look like, and there were no complaints.” Rogow said he and Montgomery were retained Thursday. Montgomery could not be reached for comment. He was the lead lawyer in litigation against the tobacco industry that resulted in a multimillion-dollar health cost reimbursement for the state of Florida. Rogow indicated the men are pursuing a twin-pronged task: to keep LePore out of harm’s way in court, and to shield her from the glare of local, national and international media. He insisted the dispute should be argued between the Gore and Bush forces. “We don’t have a dog in the fight. That’s not our position,” Rogow said. “She’s a public servant. She followed the law.” LePore, 45, is a Democrat. People who know her say that she is a nonpartisan public official who stays clear of the spotlight. First elected in 1996, she had no opposition this year when she ran for a second four-year term as supervisor. She is a member of the Public Leadership Institute, a nonpartisan group that sponsored a candidate forum for four countywide offices this year. “I think the fact that she didn’t get any opposition means the Republican Party thinks she’s been fair and honest with them,” said Jackie Winchester, a former supervisor of elections. During lunch hour, LePore can often be spotted at Roxy’s, a noontime spot popular with reporters and politicians in downtown West Palm Beach. But she always dines with personal friends or staffers, and she never table-hops. Last week, LePore, on the instructions of her attorney, maintained a low profile. Rogow said the lawyers have rejected a flood of interview requests from national news organizations. “The amount of publicity and demands to talk to her would be unsettling to anybody,” he said. “She’s holding up very well.”

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