Yoo hoo! Republican Congressional leaders! Want to find a painless budget cut? Here you go.
Nearly a decade after he was appointed to investigate then-Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros, independent counsel David M. Barrett spent more than $1.26 million of federal money in the last six months of fiscal 2004, the Government Accountability Office reported Thursday.
Since its inception, the Cisneros investigation has cost nearly $21 million, a total rivaling some of the largest independent counsel investigations in history.
Barrett was appointed in May 1995 to investigate allegations that Cisneros lied to the FBI about money he paid to a former mistress. Cisneros pleaded guilty and in September 1999 and paid a $10,000 fine and a $25 court assessment. He was later pardoned by President Clinton.
By then, Barrett had spent $10.3 million on his investigation, and Congress had allowed the independent counsel law to lapse.
But Barrett stayed in business to investigate whether anyone in the Clinton administration had attempted to obstruct justice during the probe. In July 2001, the three-judge panel gave Barrett permission to continue, but Judge Richard Cudahy questioned the expense.
"Whether a cost-benefit analysis at this point would support Mr. Barrett's effort is a question to which I have no answer," Cudahy wrote, noting that Barrett had been spending about $1 million every six months.