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Burton will ask House to hold Reno in contempt

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sept. 17) -- Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) said Thursday he intends to ask the full House to cite Attorney General Janet Reno for contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over internal documents related to the Justice Department's investigation into alleged fund-raising irregularities during the 1996 election campaign..

Burton
Rep. Dan Burton  

Burton chairs the House Reform and Oversight Committee, which has been conducting its own investigation into allegations of campaign finance abuses.

In response, Reno said she was "disappointed" that Burton was pressing ahead with a contempt citation, saying that she had made "extraordinary accommodations" to supply Burton's committee with information about the Justice Department's probe.

Burton and his committee have been demanding that Reno turn over a copy of a report prepared for her by Charles LaBella, the outgoing head of her campaign finance task force. They also want to see a similar report prepared by FBI Director Louis Freeh.

Both LaBella and Freeh are believed to have recommended to Reno that she appoint an independent counsel to investigate alleged fund-raising abuses during the 1996 campaign -- a step the attorney general has so far resisted. Burton claims Reno is balking on appointment of an independent counsel to protect President Bill Clinton.

Last month, Reno provided Burton and other GOP committee chairmen with edited portions of the reports. Reno maintains release of the documents would reveal too much about the department's investigation. They also contain secret grand jury material.

Burton and Reno met Thursday to discuss a request by Burton to allow more members of his committee to review the edited reports.

"I offered to permit additional members of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee to review these documents, in order to satisfy the committee's subpoena," Reno said in a written statement issued after Burton's announcement. "I again offered to testify, to meet with members of the committee and to answer oversight questions."

But Burton's press secretary, John Williams, said Reno would only agree to the wider release of the edited version of the reports on the condition that both the contempt citation and a subpoena issued for the documents in July be withdrawn.

After consulting with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Burton decided to file a resolution asking the full House to issue a contempt citation. It could come to the floor for a vote by the end of the year.



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Thursday, September 17, 1998

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