Reno Says Gore Did Not Lie about Fund Raising

July 7, 2008 - 8:25 PM

( - Attorney General Janet Reno said Vice President Al Gore did not give false statements to FBI investigators, nor did he have any reason to do so, in connection with a 1996 campaign fundraising investigation.

"I think it's clear," Reno told reporters Thursday, "That in that case, what was at issue was whether in a statement given in the fall of 1997, the Vice President gave incorrect information. We went through it carefully and could show no instance where he knew that what he had said was false. We also found very clearly that he had no motive to give a false statement and that there was no purpose in it."

At her weekly news briefing in Washington, Reno told reporters that Gore's "innocent explanation" was satisfactory.

Reno was responding to questions about a confidential report that was leaked to the press last week. The so-called "LaBella report -- prepared by Charles LaBella, the Justice Department's former campaign finance investigator - was sealed, at Reno's orders, for nearly two years despite congressional pressure for it to be released.

LaBella's report concluded that Gore "may have provided false testimony" in connection with a 1995 fundraising effort involving White House telephones.

Under federal law, it's okay to raise "soft money" (unlimited contributions for political parties) from a federal workplace, but not "hard money" (limited contributions spent directly on behalf of candidates.)

In 1997, Gore told investigators he believed that no hard money was raised in a 1995 fundraising effort he conducted from his office. When asked about the incident, Gore said that he broke no laws because there was "no controlling legal authority" covering soft money fundraising solicitations.

But Democratic records later showed that some of the money Gore raised did end up in hard money accounts after all. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) later defended Gore, saying some of the money was put into "hard money" accounts without Gore's knowledge.

But later, notes and memos surfaced, indicating that Gore had attended a November 1995 meeting that included discussions about raising hard money.

Attorney General Reno ordered a 90-day review of the Gore phone calls in 1997, eventually deciding not to seek the appointment of an independent counsel -- something that LaBella had recommended.

Later, with the discovery of additional Gore fundraising memos, Reno ordered a second 90-day review of Gore's activities, to see if he should be investigated for possible perjury. He wasn't.