Deborah Gore Dean, the Reagan administration's choice for a top job at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is embroiled in a controversy spurred by charges that she leaked an internal memo to an official of the Teamsters union, causing the memo's author to fear for his life.

Dean yesterday denied any wrongdoing and accused her Capitol Hill opponents of "dirty pool" and a campaign of "harassment." She added in an interview, "They are purposefully maligning me and using every cheap trick in the book to try to get me to withdraw my name -- and I'm not going to do it."

At issue is the choice of Dean to be assistant secretary for community planning and development, a $77,500-a-year position that would give her authority over about $3.7 billion in federal funds -- more than 40 percent of the department's annual budget.

After criticism from some housing groups that Dean lacked any experience for the job, the Senate failed to act on her nomination, sending it back to the White House last month. Dean, 33, a 1980 graduate of Georgetown University, said she fully expects the president will resubmit her name.

Dean, currently a HUD consultant, has said that her work in recent years as an executive assistant to HUD Secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr. more than makes up for her previous lack of experience.

In recent days, according to Senate staff members, her prospects have been clouded by a new HUD inspector general's report. It questioned Dean's role last October in releasing part of an internal HUD memo to Teamsters Housing Corp. Director John J. Joyce.

The memo, written by HUD official Robert Wilden, recommended denying 12 Teamsters Housing Corp. proposals for aid under a program to build housing for the elderly and handicapped. Several months earlier, in a meeting with Teamsters President Jackie Presser, Dean had encouraged the nonprofit group to submit the applications, arguing that it would be good for the Teamsters' image.

"I gave Mr. Presser quite a lobbying job that it would do his union a lot of good if they were involved in issues of this kind," Dean said.

Wilden's memo, which mentioned Presser's pending indictment on fraud and racketeering charges, argued that none of the Teamsters group's applications should be funded, in part because the union's housing program had previously been a "mortgage credit reject." After receiving the memo, the inspector general's report said, Teamsters official Joyce made what two HUD officials perceived to be "threatening" remarks about Wilden, HUD director of elderly and disabled housing programs.

In a November 1986 meeting that "got out of hand," Joyce suggested that the union might "cut out the cancer" at HUD -- a remark the HUD officials interpreted as a reference to Wilden, according to accounts of interviews contained in the report.

In another meeting, Dean told a HUD official that the Teamsters had "put out a contract on Wilden's life," according to the report. This came shortly after Dean met with Joyce and, according to an account in the inspector general's report, "jokingly said to Joyce, 'What are you going to do, put him {Wilden} in cement shoes?' Joyce then replied something to the effect that they {the Teamsters} can take care of him."

Dean yesterday denied that she ever made the comment about "cement shoes." But she said she was alarmed by Joyce's remarks and cautioned him about them. "I said, 'John . . . you've got a lousy sense of humor,' " Dean said.

In an interview with the inspector general's office, Joyce said his remarks were never intended to threaten Wilden. But Wilden was concerned enough to lodge a complaint with the inspector general's office.

Joyce's office said he was out of town and could not be reached for comment. Wilden did not return a reporter's telephone call.

Dean yesterday defended her release of the Wilden memo to Joyce, saying she was only trying to help the Teamsters understand why their projects weren't funded. "There was no secret information in that," she said.

But critics of Dean's nomination say the report has raised questions about her judgment. Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, charged in a letter to Pierce last week that "in giving a sensitive internal HUD memorandum" to a Teamsters official, Dean "at the very least, has conducted herself in an unprofessional manner."

Dean is the stepdaughter of former attorney general John Mitchell, a niece of former Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Louise Gore and a cousin of Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.). Critics have contended she was nominated for the HUD post more because of political connections than administrative experience. Her resume shows she was publisher of a small Georgetown magazine and managed several Georgetown restaurants before being named to appointive positions in the Reagan administration.

Dean said yesterday, "I do not have the high degree of qualifications that some people who had this job have had." But she said she has worked as hard as anyone else at HUD in recent years, adding, "Secretary Pierce thinks I'm an outstanding nominee and Ronald Reagan agrees with him."

Dean also expressed puzzlement about the opposition to her nomination, saying, "Why are they so concerned about a little job here at HUD and some little girl trying to get a job?"