Report: Starr probe price tag included luxury apartments, private eyes
Records give glimpse of independent counsel's detailed expenses
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, October 29) -- Expenditures in Independent Counsel Ken Starr's $40 million investigation of President Bill Clinton included a large staff of prosecutors, office equipment, private investigators and luxury staff apartments, according to a news report Thursday.
The Los Angeles Times reports that newly disclosed documents obtained by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee show Starr's expenses during his 50-month investigation ranged from the routine to the exceptional.
Expenditures included more than $700,000 for five private investigators hired to supplement the dozens of FBI agents assigned to the case. Starr's office also paid $19,000 a month for luxury apartment for eight staff members.
This is the first detailed accounting of Starr's expenses to be made public. The independent counsel's office has declined to release detailed billing and expense statements.
The independent counsel had previously disclosed that his office had spent about $4.4 million between January and August 31 investigating the president's relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Starr said he had "approximately 57 employees" on the payroll, including 27 attorneys being paid an average salary of $95,838. About $1 million went toward travel.
Under the independent counsel statute, the independent counsel is permitted to spend as much taxpayer money as deemed necessary and is under no obligation to publicly disclose line-item expenditures. The Government Accounting Office conducts six-month audits of Starr's books to make sure expenses conform to federal rules.
Starr spokesman Charles Bakaly defended the spending because of the special nature of the investigation. "Each independent counsel must secure employees, office equipment and office space," Bakaly told the Times.
Bakaly also said their office followed government procurement guidelines.
A large portion of the money was allocated for office equipment to fill the independent counsel's 14,225-square-foot office in Washington. Among the purchases were 21 computers for almost $38,000, threee safes for more than $6,5000 and a $56,810 office copier.
In deciding to purchase the copier, rather than lease it for $1,299 a month, Starr's administrative officer Gregory Lefever determined it would be cheaper because he estimated Starr's probe would extend through May 2001, or four months after Clinton's second term ends.
Expert consultants also received a large chunk of the money with famed Democratic Watergate counsel Sam Dash receiving more than $200,000 for his role as ethics adviser.
The office also spent over $30,000 for a psychological analysis of the evidence in the suicide of former White House counsel Vince Foster and another $32,000 for a "community attitude and jury questionnaire" to help prepare for the fraud case against former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker.
One $434 expense at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, Virginia, occurred on one of the most well-known days of Starr's investigation. It was from January 13, the day that Linda Tripp, wired by Starr's investigators, taped her lunch meeting with Lewinsky. The tab at the Grill: $127.42.
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