A House subcommittee's dispute with the Reagan administration over access to 1980 campaign documents escalated yesterday as the panel said it was denied a second set of investigative files and the White House displayed a more openly political stance.
James Hamilton, special counsel to the Post Office and Civil Service subcommittee chaired by Rep. Donald J. Albosta (D-Mich.), said yesterday he had failed to reach agreement with Justice Department officials over access to documents the department has assembled in its probe of how Ronald Reagan's campaign obtained material from the Carter White House.
Hamilton's comments came a day after he and White House counsel Fred F. Fielding declared an impasse in separate negotiating over allow- ing the panel to inspect the Rea- gan campaign files stored at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
"There are questions that remain as to exactly what access to materials and information that the FBI gathers the subcommittee will receive," Hamilton said after an hour-long meeting with Associate Attorney General D. Lowell Jen- sen. "We expect some answers to these questions in the very near future."
Justice Department spokesman Thomas P. DeCair replied that the department has been waiting for discussions to begin since President Reagan offered the subcommittee access to the Justice material 11 days ago.
"I don't think there are any disagreements," DeCair said. "Today was the first time the subcommittee made known to us what it was interested in obtaining. We'll consider their request, and we're confident it will be worked out."
But one official close to the House investigation questioned whether there is now a pattern of administration resistance to subcommittee requests. He said that Justice officials appeared reluctant to provide the material, which would include material turned over by the White House and documents gathered by FBI investigators.
"It sounds like the president offered more than Justice is willing to give," this official said. "They went to Justice to talk procedures and ended up talking about access."
The panel had expected little trouble after Fielding said in a letter Wednesday, ". . . On July 11 the president directed the Department of Justice to meet with Mr. Albosta to work out procedures to provide him and the subcommittee with access to any materials that related to these charges . . . ."
At the White House, deputy press secretary Larry Speakes, reflecting a strong attitude inside the administration, appeared to be impatient with Albosta's position on reviewing the Hoover files.
"We've had no direct contact with Albosta," Speakes said sharply. "He's talking into the headlines."
Albosta has rejected the White House offer to throw open the Hoover files if he agrees to inspect all Carter campaign records as well. Albosta also has refused to accept only those Hoover documents deemed relevant by the FBI, saying he is conducting a broader probe.
Speakes said he is "sorry if Albosta doesn't trust the FBI." And referring to the Carter files, he said: "It's our view if that if the fishing is good in one pond, then they should also fish in the other pond."
One administration source said that top White House officials are increasingly concerned that public criticism from Albosta could puncture their image of an "open, above-board posture" on the controversy. He said the White House is worried that documents unrelated to the probe could be embarrassing if released to a Democratic congressman "hungry for headlines."
The official said some Reagan campaign strategy papers would prove embarrassing by revealing "unleashed conservatism . . . ideas that never bubbled up, but they are on paper . . . . It wouldn't help the gender gap, the fairness gap, the black gap."
"Why should we be defined by what people were thinking in 1979 and 1980?" the official said. " . . . We're not going to hand the Democrats a gold mine with 1984 around the corner. Fair isn't foolish."
Speakes told reporters that "the full product of the FBI investigation is accessible to the Albosta committee," and that the White House will respond to specific requests for material from the Hoover files.