New Jersey Democrats were questioning GOP strategist Ed Rollins Friday about his assertions that Republicans paid to keep black voters away from the polls in the state's gubernatorial election.

Rollins, who testified Thursday before a federal grand jury in New Jersey, was in a Washington law office Friday giving sworn depositions to lawyers for the state Democratic Committee.Committee Chairman Raymond Lesniak said Rollins was being questioned "to get to the bottom of things and find out if his statements were true."

The state and national Democratic committees have filed a federal civil rights suit against Rollins and are seeking to overturn the Nov. 2 election, in which Republican Christine Todd Whitman edged incumbent Democrat Jim Florio by fewer than 27,000 votes.

Federal and state authorities also were investigating whether the Whitman campaign, which Rollins managed, violated any election laws.

Rollins told reporters in Washington Nov. 9 that the campaign paid $500,000 in "street money" to black ministers and Democratic campaign workers to restrain their efforts to get out the vote.

Rollins has since retracted his remarks and Whitman insists there was no effort to discourage blacks from voting.