One of the crazy factoids that’s buzzing around the left side of the blogosphere says that Fitzgerald’s investigation into the Joe Wilson matter only cost $723,000. It’s been on Daily Kos and 30 other blogs, and widely used by Air Hysteria’s hosts. It’s based on a sloppy reading of a story in the Washington Post:
In its first 15 months, the investigation cost $723,000, according to the Government Accountability Office.
But it’s not true.
GAO does report on some of the expenditures of Special Counsels, but their reports don’t come out for a year after the expenditures are made. Every six months, they issue a report on the expenditures that were made in a six month period ending six months before the report, so we don’t have figures for the past year.
The reports that we do have are pretty sketchy, as they don’t include all the personnel costs associated with government employees, like Fitzgerald himself, for example.
Fitzgerald started in Dec. 03, and the report for the period ending Mar 04 shows personnel costs of only $13,330. That’s one cheap lawyer.
In the next six months, ending Sept 2004, Fitzgerald got his operation ramped-up and charged $584,899, again exclusive of certain personnel costs for government employees.
In the next half-year, Fitzgerald charged $112,550 plus an additional $35,195 for Justice Department lawyers and an unspecified amount for FBI investigators:
Also, certain costs were incurred by detailees from the Federal Bureau of Investigation involved in the investigation but the associated costs were not readily identifiable. Such costs of detailees are not reflected in the statement of expenditures
So that’s already $759,236 not counting FBI agents and anything that happened since March of this year. Certainly, the costs are in the millions already, but we won’t know the basics for a year, and even though we won’t know the whole story. One thing is clear, however: the costs of this investigation are already a lot more than the figure used by the Kossacks.
And yes, this type of investigation is cheaper than Ken Starr’s, but no more substantial.