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Free from influence; not free to taxpayers

At least 12 investigations into public officials have been conducted at a cost of about $160-million since 1993. While some lead to convictions, others never do.

Published November 3, 2005

Valerie Plame case

Prosecutor: Patrick Fitzgerald

Investigation: Outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame

Dates: December 2003 to present

Cost: $724,041

Outcome: I. Lewis Libby was indicted on five counts of lying and obstruction of justice. Case pending.

Cisneros money

Independent Counsel: David Barrett

Investigation: Allegations housing chief Henry Cisneros lied about money paid to his mistress

Dates: May 1995 to present

Cost: $21.7 million

Outcome: Cisneros pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was fined $10,000. He was pardoned in 2001.


Independent Counsel: Robert Fiske/Kenneth Starr/Robert Ray/Julie Thomas

Investigation: Failed Arkansas land deal, Vincent Foster suicide, firing of White House travel office, the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Dates: January 1994 to March 2004

Cost: $55.9 million

Outcome: One of the highest ranking officials indicted was associate attorney general Webster Hubbell, who pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion. Clinton avoided prosecution after he left the White House by striking a deal with prosecutors. He admitted he gave false testimony in the Lewinsky matter and accepted a $25,000 fine and suspension of his law license.

Ron Brown
Independent Counsel:
Daniel Pearson

Investigation: Alleged financial improprieties by Commerce Secretary Ron Brown

Dates: July 1995 to fall 2002

Cost: $2.8 million

Outcome: Brown died in a plane crash in April 1996. The investigation was transferred to the Justice Department. Two of his business associates were indicted and pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns.

Babbitt lobbying
Independent Counsel:
Carol Elder Bruce

Investigation: Accusations of improper lobbying of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt

Dates: March 1998 to fall 2001

Cost: $6.3 million

Outcome: No indictments.

Alexis Herman
Independent Counsel:
Ralph Lancaster

Investigation: Accusations of influence peddling by Labor Secretary Alexis Sherman

Dates: May 1998 to fall 2001

Cost: $5.2 million

Outcome: No indictments.

Mike Espy
Independent Counsel:
Donald Smaltz

Investigation: Alleged illegal gifts to former Agricult Secretary Mike Espy

Dates: September 1994 to fall 2002

Cost: $21.5 million

Outcome: Espy was indicted on 39 corruption counts in allegations that he had received financial gifts from Tyson Foods Inc., one of the companies his department regulated. Espy was acquitted on all counts.

Samuel Pierce

Independent Counsel: Arlin Adams/Larry Thompson

Investigation: Allegations of misuse of funds by housing chief Samuel Pierce

Dates: March 1990 to fall 1999

Cost: $17.3 million

Outcome: Investigators found "a pervasive pattern of improper and illegal behavior." Sixteen criminal convictions resulted, but Pierce was not indicted.

Waco raid
Independent Counsel:
John Danforth

Investigation: Government action at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas

Dates: September 1999 to fall 2001

Cost: $11.8 million

Outcome: The final report conluded the government did nothing wrong in the 1993 siege in which 80 people died.

Eli Segal
Independent Counsel:
Curtis Von Kann

Investigation: Conflict of Interest by Eli Segal, Americorps chief

Dates: November 1996 to fall 1999

Cost: $467,750

Outcome: No indictments.

Passport file search
Independent Counsel:
Joseph diGenova/Michael Zeldin

Investigation: Clinton Passport File Search Investigation

Dates: 1992 to spring 1997

Cost: $2.4 million

Outcome: No indictments.

Independent Counsel:
Lawrence Walsh

Investigation: Iran-Contra Affair

Dates: December 1986 to fall 1995

Cost: $7.3 million

Outcome: National Security Council officials including Oliver North, Robert MacFarlane and John Poindexter were convicted or pled guilty to charges related to misleading Congress. Their convictions were later overturned based on immunity they were granted during the Congressional hearings. By 1992, former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger was under indictment on charges related to misleading Congress. Later that year, however, President George H.W. Bush pardoned Weinberger and five others charged during Iran-Contra.

Source: GAO, News reports

[Last modified November 3, 2005, 10:23:47]

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