Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr spent more than $7 million between last October and March, a six-month period that included the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, according to a General Accounting Office report released yesterday.
As of March 31, Starr had spent a total of more than $47 million on his inquiries into the Whitewater and Monica S. Lewinsky matters and related issues, just short of the record for independent counsel spending, $47.4 million by Lawrence E. Walsh in the 1980s Iran-contra probe. But because the GAO covered only expenses incurred before March 31, by now Starr certainly has outspent Walsh.
Although Congress let the independent counsel law expire on June 30, investigations already underway were permitted to continue. The GAO reports, released every six months, provide the most detailed look at their overall cost. All told, current independent counsels Starr, David M. Barrett, Carol Elder Bruce, Donald C. Smaltz and Ralph I. Lancaster Jr. have spent more than $84 million investigating various Clinton administration officials during the past five years. The GAO figures include operating costs and expenses for law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, that assist in investigations.
Starr's office, which declined to comment, is winding down its operations. Two other Clinton-era independent counsels, Smaltz and Barrett, are wrapping up their work after mixed results.
Smaltz accrued $1.8 million in expenses during the GAO's latest reporting period, bringing the cost of his investigation of former agriculture secretary Mike Espy to $21 million. The latest figures included the costs of Espy's trial on corruption charges, which ended with his acquittal last December.
Barrett's investigation of former housing secretary Henry Cisneros, which as of March 31 had cost more than $10 million, came to an end last month when Cisneros pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of lying to the FBI.
Bruce has spent $3.9 million examining allegations concerning Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and a proposed Indian gambling casino. Lancaster has spent $1.4 million investigating influence-peddling allegations against Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman. Bruce reportedly is close to completing her investigation, while Lancaster continues to work with a federal grand jury.