How to Spend $57 Million on Cocktail Weenies

Larry Johnson does the math, so I don’t have to. Fitzgerald’s total costs to investigate the deliberate outing of a CIA spy, through March 31, amount to $2,396,283. Ken Starr’s total costs, to investigate a failed land deal and a blow job, amount to $59,463,703. I guess all those cocktail weenies Starr bought for the press really add up, huh?

Now that Larry pulled all these numbers together, though, I’d like to take a look at what Fitzgerald spent when–or rather, how much time he spent when. Here’s the total spent on personnel for each reporting period (click through to Larry’s post for the total amounts–I’m using personnel to get a sense of how much time these activities took). The total amount for all personnel time reported to date is $1,876,570.


Amount Activities
3/31/2004 $13,330 Review FBI case

Grand jury interviews of most witnesses, including Rove, Libby, Novak

9/30/04 $487,098 Pursue and obtain testimony from Russert, Kessler, Cooper (pertaining to Libby), and Pincus

Pursue testimony from Cooper (pertaining to Rove) and Miller

Follow-up interviews with Armitage and Novak

3/31/05 $48,536 Argue before Appeals Court to justify Cooper and Miller subpoenas
9/30/05 $169,383 Obtain testimony from Cooper and (the first appearance) Miller.
3/31/06 $297,188 Obtain testimony from Miller (the second appearance)

Last minute pre-indictment frenzy

Indict Libby

Interview Viveca Novak, Woodward

Begin discovery phase

9/30/06 $268,198 Continue discovery

Begin CIPA process

Give Armitage and Rove all (or mostly) clear

3/31/07 $592,837 Complete CIPA and other pre-trial activities

Argue trial

Now, I’m assuming that some of the costs associated with the initial grand jury testimony of everyone and their mother in February and March 2004 was cleared after March 31, and therefore shows up in the 9/30/04 report. And that therefore that figure for the 9/30/04 period–higher than any period save the actual trial period–includes activities that took place earlier. Let’s just say half that cost reflects February and March grand jury interviews. That still means roughly half a million dollars in personnel costs–well over a quarter of all total personnel costs–was spent obtaining the testimony of primary journalist witnesses. (Though note: given the logic that it may take more than a month for charges to clear, there will probably be significant charges reported in the period ending 9/30/07.)

I’m sure people will use that factoid in a variety of ways, both to criticize and celebrate Fitzgerald. But the next time some media outlet talks about the expensive Fitzgerald investigation, you might point out that it was expensive largely because of the media outlets.

  1. emptywheel says:

    One more interesting question is whether we can separate out the figures for the CIPA process–to figure out how much Libby’s ”I’m going to testify” head fake cost the taxpayer.

  2. SaltinWound says:

    I wouldn’t mind if he’d spent a little more money, questioning Dickerson and a few other people he never got around to.

  3. masaccio says:

    I’m not sure I’d guess there were carryover charges on personnel, because the reports are on the cash basis of accounting. Personnel are paid regularly by the government, so the issue should just be counting the people who worked on the project, allocating their salaries by time, and adding the totals.

  4. masaccio says:

    See Note 1: ”Generally, personnel compensation and benefits are recorded at the end of the pay period when earned.”

  5. Ishmael says:

    I know $2.4 million sounds like a lot of money, but given the amount of work that had to be done, the fact that it took over three years (during which Fitz was carrying a full caseload against other well-heeled neocons like Conrad Black!) and the calibre of the legal talent that represented Scooter, Rove and the Media Illuminati, it is remarkably low IMHO. Money in this range is spent on high level drug operations all the time (the Craig men’s room sting operation probably cost in the high five figures for police and prosecution time, to give some perspective). I suspect that the cost involved for the defence of Scooter, Rove, Judy Miller, Time Warner, and the rest, along with the flakking by Toensing and DiGenova, was close to the $50 million that Starr spent – now, that would be an interesting mathematical exercise! and further testament to Fitz’s skill.

  6. Kathleen says:

    Cost to the taxpayers for
    investigating a land deal and a bj $59,463,703

    Cost to the taxpayer for
    the investigation of the outing on
    an undercover agent $2,356,283

    Cost to our National Security certainly Not Priceless, and they may never let us know, but Valerie Plame/Wilson knows.

  7. MayBee says:

    Ken Starr spent way too much on Whitewater and everything that followed. I doubt he ever could have gotten away with it without the Special Prosecutor law, and I’m happy that was allowed to expire.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Is there any way to determine how much the DoJ is spending on the BALCO steroids investigations and prosecutions? They finally got Marion Jones. Why do I get the feeling that the Bush DoJ spent more money going after somebody who cheated in the 2000 Sydney Olympics (Marion Jones) than somebody who bombed the 1996 Atlanta Olympics (Eric Rudolph).