Libby's Friends Raise $2M for Legal Bills

Friends and supporters of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby have raised $2 million to help him pay his legal bills.

Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, was indicted last year on charges that he lied to FBI agents and a federal grand jury about how he learned CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and when he subsequently told reporters.

The Scooter Libby Legal Defense Trust hopes to raise $5 million to $6 million, or more, said Barbara Comstock, a Republican strategist who is helping the fund's steering committee.

Comstock said contributions have been made by hundreds of people across the country in amounts up to $11,000 or $12,000, the threshold to avoid tax liability for the donors.

A Web site also will be used to solicit contributions. Comstock said it will be up in the next few weeks.

The New York Times first reported Friday that the fund had reached $2 million in contributions.

Comstock said the fund does not have to reveal the identities of its donors under law. But she described the donors as Libby's "friends or friends of friends, colleagues at various jobs he's had over the years and just people who admire his service" to government.

The fund's steering committee includes a few Democrats and several Republicans. Former Ambassador Mel Sembler is its chairman.

The other members include two former Republican presidential candidates, Jack Kemp and Steve Forbes; three former Republican senators, Fred Thompson of Tennessee, Spencer Abraham of Michigan and Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming; and former CIA Director James Woolsey.

Libby's trial on perjury and obstruction of justice charges is set for January 2007.