Special Prosecutor Plans to Spend $2.7 Million by Fall With BC-Whitewater’s Cost-Glance
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Three months into the job, Whitewater special prosecutor Robert Fiske has spent $1 million on his investigation and anticipates the total will more than double by fall.
Fiske released financial estimates Thursday for the remainder of the government’s fiscal year, including salaries for his entire staff. He estimated the bill will reach $2.7 million by Sept. 30.
Fiske said there is no way to tell how long the investigation will take.
″I have a one-year lease on my apartment in west Little Rock. When I took it out, I knew it could be extended,″ he said.
If Fiske’s projections hold, the Whitewater probe will be costing taxpayers $296,100 a month, or about a third less than the seven-year, $37 million Iran- Contra probe headed by Lawrence Walsh.
Walsh’s investigation, however, was one of the most complex special prosecution cases in history, involving activities overseas, multiple convictions and lengthy and expensive appeals.
Still at least one critic of Walsh’s spending was pleased.
″He doesn’t appear to be flying first class or ordering magnums of champagne on the taxpayers. Hopefully, that frugality will continue,″ said Pete Sepp, spokesman for the National Taxpayers’ Union, which advocates lower taxes and government spending.
Through April 21, Fiske’s offices had spent $1.17 million.
The biggest expense since his appointment as special counsel Jan. 24 has been $541,000 for computer hardware and software to sort and match electronic copies of land records and financial documents.
But by the time the budget year ends Sept. 30, salaries and benefits will have become the biggest expense, reaching $983,000, Fiske said.
Fiske listed his salary as $107,300. The 11 lawyers on his staff will be paid between $52,500 and $103,000 each, while pay for support staff will range between $61,599 for a budget analyst to $5,353 for a part-time assistant.
Out-of-town staffers, including Fiske, also receive a partial rent subsidy as part of the nine-month, $330,000 travel budget.
Fiske was given no time or money constraints when he was appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate activities surrounding Whitewater Development Corp.
The Clintons and their partners, James and Susan McDougal, formed Whitewater to build a vacation and retirement community in northern Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains.
Fiske’s investigation has expanded well beyond the land venture to include:
-Whether depositor funds from a failed savings and loan owned by McDougal were improperly diverted in the mid-1980s to benefit prominent Arkansans, including then-Gov. Clinton.
-Whether any contacts between White House officials and Treasury Department regulators overseeing the investigation into McDougal’s thrift were improper.
-Allegations by former municipal judge David Hale that Clinton pressured him in 1986 to improperly make a federally backed loan to Susan McDougal.
-The apparent suicide of White House deputy counsel Vince Foster.