Division for the Purpose of Appointing Independent Counsels Ethics in Government Act of 1978, As Amended
Before: Sentelle, Presiding, Fay and Reavley, Senior
This matter coming to be heard and being heard before the Special Division of the Court upon the application of William David Watkins for reimbursement of attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to section 593(f) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended, 28 U.S.C. § 591 et seq. (2000), and it appearing to the Court for the reasons set forth more fully in the opinion filed contemporaneously herewith, that the petition is not well taken, it is hereby
ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that the petition of William David Watkins for attorneys' fees that he incurred during the Independent Counsel's investigation be denied, save for a single unique item.
ON APPLICATION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES
William David Watkins petitions this Court under section 593(f) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended, 28 U.S.C. §§ 591–599 (2000) (''the Act''), for reimbursement of attorneys' fees in the amount of $129,583.10 that he claims were incurred during and as a result of the investigation conducted by Independent Counsel. Because we conclude that Watkins has not carried his burden of showing that the fees would not have been incurred ''but for'' the requirements of the Act, we deny the petition, save for a single unique item.
In May of 1993, William David Watkins (''Watkins''), who was Assistant to the President for Management and Administration, fired seven employees of the White House Travel Office. Because of allegations of wrongdoing surrounding the firings, various entities, including the Congress and the General Accounting Office (''GAO''), undertook investigations of the matter. Then First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton (''Clinton''), was reportedly questioned during these investigations concerning her role in the firings. She asserted that she had little if any involvement in them. When questioned by the GAO, Watkins also stated that Clinton was minimally involved. These statements were put into doubt when drafts of a 1993 memo, written by Watkins and arguably contradicting his and Clinton's testimony, were produced by the White House. The GAO subsequently filed a criminal referral with the Department of Justice (''DOJ''), suggesting that Watkins may have made false statements when interviewed by the GAO. Because Watkins was a covered person under the Independent Counsel Act, see 28 U.S.C. § 591(b), the Attorney General (''AG'') initiated a preliminary investigation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 592, in order to determine whether further investigation was warranted. Although the usual duration for a preliminary investigation is 90 days, the AG took considerably less time in this case*fn1, concluding rather quickly that further investigation was indeed warranted. Consequently, she requested that this Court expand the Independent Counsel's (''IC'' or ''OIC'') jurisdiction to investigate, among other things, whether Watkins or Clinton had made false statements to the GAO regarding the Travel Office firings.
The IC then conducted an extensive investigation. Ultimately, he determined that no charges would be brought against either Watkins or Clinton. Pursuant to § 593(f)(1) of the Act, Watkins now petitions the Court for reimbursement of the attorneys' fees in the amount of $129,583.10 that he claims were incurred in defense of the IC's investigation. As directed by section 593(f)(2) of the Act, we forwarded copies of Watkins' fee petition to the AG and the IC and requested written evaluations of the petition. The Court expresses its appreciation to the IC and the AG for submitting these evaluations, which we have given due consideration in arriving at the decision announced herein.
The Independent Counsel statute provides:
Upon the request of an individual who is the subject of an investigation conducted by an independent counsel pursuant to this chapter, the division of the court may, if no indictment is brought against such individual pursuant to that investigation, award reimbursement for those reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by that individual during that ...