(CNSNews.com) - Former Justice Department campaign finance task force chief Charles LaBella told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee Tuesday that Vice President Al Gore "may have given false statements" to Department of Justice investigators and FBI agents when he was questioned about the 1996 presidential reelection contributions and denied any knowledge of "hard" money being raised for the Clinton-Gore campaign.
LaBella told committee members he came to the conclusion that Gore may not have been honest in answering investigators questions based on the fact that former deputy White House chief of staff Harold Ickes sent 13 memos to the vice president during the 1996 presidential reelection campaign discussing "soft" and "hard" campaign contributions.
The vice president claims that he only raised soft money from his office at the Old Executive Office Building during the 96' campaign. Federal law prohibits raising direct campaign money on federal property.
LaBella testified that Gore's "statements" to investigators may have been "false" when he denied that some of the donations he solicited from his federal office were illegal "hard money" contributions.
"You had, I think, information from credible sources. There's reason to believe that the vice president knew that he was raising - in part - soft money and hard money," LaBella told the subcommittee.
In July 1998, LaBella sent a memo to Attorney General Janet Reno urging her to appoint an independent counsel to investigate Clinton and Gore for possible campaign finance violations during their reelection campaign. The memo did not mention any specific acts, but cited a "pattern of conduct worthy of investigation."
Ms. Reno never acted on the recommendation by LaBella, whom she handpicked to head the task force.
A spokesman for Specter told CNSNews.com that the senator plans to subpoena FBI Director Louis Freeh to appear before the subcommittee, perhaps as soon as next week. Freeh sent two memos to Reno, also urging her to appoint independent counsel to investigate fund-raising activities by the Clinton-Gore reelection committee.
Freeh's memos said that FBI agents were investigating "the highest levels of the White House," and that she was required under the Independent Counsel Statute to seek an independent prosecutor.
LaBella's memo to Reno has not been made public, and he told the panel that he thinks it should remain confidential to protect the operations and techniques of U.S attorney's offices nationwide.