Counsels Have Spent $62 Million Investigating Administration
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 1, 1998; Page A21
Kenneth W. Starr and other independent counsels investigating Clinton administration officials have spent close to $62 million during the past four years, according to a new General Accounting Office report.
Starr is the biggest spender, the GAO said. As of March 31, his prosecutors had spent roughly $33.5 million investigating the Whitewater land deal, the Monica S. Lewinsky matter and other issues involving President Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton and various White House officials.
All told, Starr and his predecessor, special prosecutor Robert B. Fiske, have spent nearly $40 million on investigations that began with Whitewater -- a sign, Clinton's allies say, that the open-ended probe is out of control.
The GAO reports, released every six months, provide the most detailed look at overall spending by the independent counsels. But they are dated pictures: Because yesterday's totals covered only those expenses incurred before March 31, they do not reflect much of the tab for the Lewinsky saga. The report includes expenses only from the first 10 weeks of that investigation.
In a separate report to the Senate last month, Starr estimated total Lewinsky-related spending at roughly $4.4 million through August. That suggests Starr's office could eventually surpass the record for independent counsel spending, $47.4 million, set by Lawrence E. Walsh in the Iran-contra probe.
According to yesterday's report, Starr's office spent $3.9 million during the six-month period that ended March 31. That's a slightly higher tally than the expenses he has typically reported since his appointment in August 1994.
The GAO's spending figures include operating costs and expenses of law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, that assist in the investigations.
According to the GAO, Donald C. Smaltz was the next biggest spender in the six-month period ending March 31. Smaltz accrued $2.6 million in expenses, bringing the cost of his four-year probe of former agriculture secretary Mike Espy to roughly $17.4 million. His spending is about to pick up: Espy goes on trial today in U.S. District Court in Washington on charges that he accepted $35,000 in illegal gratuities and launched a cover-up.
David M. Barrett, the independent counsel appointed in May 1995 to investigate former housing secretary Henry G. Cisneros, spent about $1.8 million in the six-month period, bringing his total expenses to $7.3 million. Cisneros was indicted last December on 18 charges stemming from allegations that he lied to the FBI about $250,000 in payments he made to a former mistress.
Cisneros was to stand trial in November. But his lawyers recently won a delay. "I remain committed to resolving this matter as quickly as possible," Barrett said this week. "Unfortunately, events have protracted the matter longer than I had hoped."
There have been 20 independent counsels appointed to investigate allegations concerning high-level officials since the law creating the position was enacted in 1978. Others in the Clinton era include Curtis E. von Kann, who spent $381,712 before clearing former AmeriCorps official Eli J. Segal of conflict-of-interest allegations, and Daniel S. Pearson, who spent $3.2 million investigating the financial dealings of the late Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown.
The most recent appointee, Ralph I. Lancaster Jr., was named in May to investigate influence-peddling allegations against Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman. His expenses have not yet been covered by any GAO reports.
Also taking office this year was Carol Elder Bruce, who was appointed in March to investigate allegations concerning Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and a proposed Indian gambling casino. The GAO report covered her first 12 days on the job; she spent $4,020 in rent.
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