Expenses for the Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan investigation, the far-ranging land speculation and influence matter known as "Whitewater," may increase another $8 million -- on top of an estimated $70 million in taxpayer dollars. A request by former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., for $3.5 million in legal fee reimbursements tops the list of requests from those investigated but not indicted.
By Michael Ravnitzky|September 30, 2002 at 12:00 AM
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Prepare to add $8 million to an estimated $70 million in taxpayer expenses for the Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan investigation, the far-ranging land speculation and influence matter known as “Whitewater.” A request by former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., for $3.5 million in legal fee reimbursements tops the list. Thirty-seven people who were investigated but not indicted are seeking more than $7.7 million for legal fees as high as $500 an hour in applications filed with the Special Division of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Six more individuals persuaded the court to seal their applications. The court is expected to rule on the applications this fall. The Clintons’ bulky application takes a slap at members of both parties for pursuing the investigation, saying: “This partisanization of the process has been nonpartisan.” It contrasts the cost and duration of the seven-year investigation with the 17-month investigation of TWA Flight 800 off New York’s Long Island in 1996. The subjects of independent counsel investigations can recover reasonable legal fees under a provision designed to prevent financial strain on those who were investigated but not indicted. “The fees are fair” and reflect the rates for skilled lawyers defending clients against white-collar criminal charges in Washington, D.C., said Mark Tuohey III, a partner at Houston’s Vinson & Elkins. His declarations appear frequently in support of the fee applications. The Special Division, comprised of three members of the D.C. Circuit, has often been reluctant to grant full fees and expenses, rejecting 21 of 50 applications outright through 2000. It has turned away applicants who didn’t prove they were subjects of investigations or that the fees were as a result of them. In the current applications, lawyers spelled out their claims and provided evidence of reasonableness in the form of this newspaper’s billing rate surveys, as well as declarations from well-known white-collar defense attorneys. Applicants are aware that the court will balk at costs like dealing with the media or preparing the fee application. The Clintons’ request describes the involvement of 20 attorneys, six summer associates, eight library researchers, 21 paralegals and other support staff. Other requests are from:
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