Louisiana Gov.'s Aide Denies DUI Charge

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A lawyer for a top aide to Governor Kathleen Blanco (search) said the aide will fight a local drunken driving charge. The lawyer also predicted the aide will be found innocent.

Blanco's special assistant, Leonard Kleinpeter (search), was pulled over March 9 by a Shreveport police officer because his rental car did not have a visible license plate. During the stop, the officer smelled alcohol on his breath and concluded Kleinpeter was drunk. Kleinpeter refused to take sobriety tests.

Kleinpeter's lawyer, Ronald J. Miciotto, said Monday that Kleinpeter was not working or using public money when the arrest took place. Miciotto said Kleinpeter was returning to his hotel after having dinner with a college friend when he was pulled over.

Miciotto said he has watched police videotape of the arrest and his client does not appear drunk. He added Kleinpeter will plead innocent at his arraignment, scheduled for May 5.

Blanco's office has said there is no plan for administrative action against Kleinpeter, who supervises the 15 offices that make up the Governor's Office of Community Relations (search) and oversees Louisiana boards and commissions. He was Blanco's chief of staff when she was lieutenant governor. He also served as first assistant secretary of state and once worked as an associate dean at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where Blanco's husband works.