Reno requests counsel to investigate labor secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Janet Reno requested an independent counsel to investigate whether Labor Secretary Alexis Herman engaged in influence peddling or solicited illegal campaign contributions.
Reno’s decision to seek a seventh independent counsel for a high-ranking member of the Clinton administration was relayed to a special court late Monday and described in a brief court document that was made public.
The primary allegation was that, as a White House aide, Herman took kickbacks for helping a friend’s clients. Herman has denied any wrongdoing.
Some Justice officials recommended Reno request appointment of an outside prosecutor because the independent counsel law requires that step when she is unable to resolve any specific, credible allegations of federal felonies within 150 days, said department sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Other Justice officials apparently doubted that the remaining unresolved matters were specific and credible enough to require an independent counsel.
Attorneys for Herman were still providing information to the department on Friday. Reno discussed the case in meetings with key aides on the deadline day, Monday.
If Reno asks a special three-judge court to select an independent counsel, it would be the seventh independent counsel she has requested. She previously had counsels named to investigate Clinton, four of his Cabinet members — since-deceased Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros, former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt — and former White House aide Eli Segal.