The Senate agreed yesterday to cut off money to the decade-long investigation of former housing and urban development secretary Henry G. Cisneros, which has cost nearly $21 million.Here's the interesting tidbit from the WSJ... ifyou don't have a subscription, you should get one ASAP (click here)
Legislation that provides money for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan includes an amendment sponsored by Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) to stop spending by June 1 on the probe led by independent counsel David Barrett. A report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress's investigative arm, shows Barrett spent $1.26 million during the six months ending Sept. 30, 2004. The largest expenses were for salaries and benefits and contracted services.
Cisneros admitted in 1999 that, when being considered for a Cabinet job, he lied to the FBI about how much he paid a former mistress. Cisneros, housing secretary from 1993 to 1996, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was fined $10,000.
President Bill Clinton pardoned Cisneros in January 2001.
"This is the most unbelievable waste of taxpayers' money I've ever seen," Dorgan said. "It's been 10 years since the investigation started, six years since the subject of the investigation pleaded guilty and four years since the subject was pardoned." He predicted the measure will have little trouble becoming law.
The Washington Post reported this month that Barrett was close to completing the investigation and issuing a report. Barrett prosecuted Cisneros on a single misdemeanor and then focused on pursuing possible obstruction of justice and other charges against people connected to Cisneros.
This would have the practical effect of making sure that Mr. Barrett's report never sees the light of day. After 10 long years and $21 million, don't they think taxpayers deserve to see what the special counsel has learned?My question is this.... why are they blocking the investigation now that we're about to have a report released? Why not let it run its course? If we've sunk $21M on the investigation and it takes another 500k to have the report produced, why kill it now? If it was a stupid investigation in the first place, why didn't the Dems use their political capital to kill it then?
We should add that any blame for this delay lies mainly with Mr. Cisneros's lawyers at Williams and Connolly, who have filed more than 190 motions and appeals; one single appeal took some 18 months to deal with. The 400-plus page Barrett report has been largely done since last August, and awaits only a requisite period for review and response by those named in its pages. The only thing threatening a hold-up past June are further defense motions seeking still more delay.
So what don't Democrats want everyone to know? We're told that early on the Barrett probe moved away from Mr. Cisneros and his mistress and focused on an attempted cover-up by the Clinton Administration, especially involving the IRS.
Back in the early '90s Mr. Cisneros was considered the rising savior of the Democratic Party in Texas. "So there were people who wanted to save his political future," a source tells us. To that end, when the IRS began investigating him for tax fraud an extraordinary thing happened: The investigation was taken from the IRS district office that would always handle such an audit and moved to Washington, where it was killed.
"Never in the history of the IRS has a case been pulled out of the regional office and taken directly to Washington," our source continues. This information was originally provided to Mr. Barrett, some years into his investigation, by a whistleblower in the IRS regional office with 30 years of experience.
Using his subpoena power, Mr. Barrett also found that the IRS would not have been able to kill the case on its own. It had to have cooperation from the Justice Department, particularly the Public Integrity and Tax divisions. We're told Mr. Barrett beat back several attempts by Justice to squelch or otherwise limit his investigation, and that a lot of important names from the Clinton era appear in the report. One key figure is likely to be former Clinton Administration IRS Commissioner Peggy Richardson, a prominent Texas Democrat, and a friend of both Mr. Cisneros and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Yet now three highly partisan Democrats want to de-fund this probe and prevent publication of the report. "There is no other way to characterize this but as obstruction of justice," a source tells us, noting that Congress has never before tried to step on an Independent Counsel investigation like this. Surely given the ethical history of the Clinton years, the public deserves to see the report and judge for itself whether the IRS and Justice Department were misused for political purposes.
There seems to be some discrepancy between the two articles as to whether this amendment actually passed the Senate. I'll see if I can find more details.
Oh, and WHAT IN THE HECK is this amendment doing in an bill that provides funding for operations in Iraq??? Come On... ridiculous.
ARC: St Wendeler