PRECISELY one year ago, we lucky taxpayers took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance giants that contributed mightily to the wild and crazy home-loan-boom-turned-bust. In that rescue operation, the Treasury agreed to pony up as much as $200 billion to keep Fannie in the black, coughing up cash whenever its liabilities exceed its assets. According to the company’s most recent quarterly financial statement, the Treasury will, by Sept. 30, have handed over $45 billion to shore up the company’s net worth.

It is still unclear what the ultimate cost of this bailout will be. But thanks to inquiries by Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, we do know of another, simply outrageous cost. As a result of the Fannie takeover, taxpayers are paying millions of dollars in legal defense bills for three top former executives, including Franklin D. Raines, who left the company in late 2004 under accusations of accounting improprieties. From Sept. 6, 2008, to July 21, these legal payments totaled $6.3 million.

With all the turmoil of the financial crisis, you may have forgotten about the book-cooking that went on at Fannie Mae. Government inquiries found that between 1998 and 2004, senior executives at Fannie manipulated its results to hit earnings targets and generate $115 million in bonus compensation. Fannie had to restate its financial results by $6.3 billion.

Almost two years later, in 2006, Fannie’s regulator concluded an investigation of the accounting with a scathing report. “The conduct of Mr. Raines, chief financial officer J. Timothy Howard, and other members of the inner circle of senior executives at Fannie Mae was inconsistent with the values of responsibility, accountability, and integrity,” it said.

That year, the government sued Mr. Raines, Mr. Howard and Leanne Spencer, Fannie’s former controller, seeking $100 million in fines and $115 million in restitution from bonuses the government contended were not earned. Without admitting wrongdoing, Mr. Raines, Mr. Howard and Ms. Spencer paid $31.4 million in 2008 to settle the litigation.

When these top executives left Fannie, the company was obligated to cover the legal costs associated with shareholder suits brought against them in the wake of the accounting scandal.

Now those costs are ours. Between Sept. 6, 2008, and July 21, we taxpayers spent $2.43 million to defend Mr. Raines, $1.35 million for Mr. Howard, and $2.52 million to defend Ms. Spencer.

“I cannot see the justification of people who led these organizations into insolvency getting a free ride,” Mr. Grayson said. “It goes right to the heart of what people find most disturbing in this situation — the absolute lack of justice.”

Lawyers for the three executives did not returns calls seeking comment.

An additional $16.8 million was paid in the period to cover legal expenses of workers at the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, Fannie’s former regulator. These costs are associated with defending the regulator in litigation against former Fannie executives.
This tally of taxpayer legal costs took several months for Mr. Grayson to extract. On June 4, after Congressional hearings on the current and future status of Fannie and Freddie, he requested the information from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, now their regulator. He got its response on Aug. 26.

A spokeswoman for the agency said it would not comment for this article.

THE lawyers’ billable hours, meanwhile, keep piling up. As the F.H.F.A. explained to Mr. Grayson, the $6.3 million in costs generated by 10 months of legal defense work for Mr. Raines, Mr. Howard and Ms. Spencer includes not a single deposition for any of them. Instead, those bills covered 33 depositions of “other parties” relating to the shareholder suits and requiring the presence of the three executives’ counsel.

One of Mr. Grayson’s questions about these payments remains unanswered — whether placing Fannie Mae into receivership, rather than conservatorship, would have negated the agreement to cover the former executives’ legal costs. Choosing conservatorship allowed Fannie to stabilize and meant that it was going to continue to operate, not wind down immediately.

But, Mr. Grayson pointed out: “If these companies had gone into receivership instead of conservatorship, the trustee in bankruptcy or the receiver would have been free, legally, to reject these contracts that called for indemnification. Raines, Howard and Spencer would have had to pay their own fees.”

When asked about this, Fannie’s regulator, the F.H.F.A., waffled. “Whether these costs could have been avoided would depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding any receivership,” it said. “It is possible that receiverships could have reduced the costs of the litigation, but by no means certain.”

Mr. Grayson said he intended to find out whether there are any legal options under the conservatorship to stop paying for the defense of the Fannie Mae three. “When did Uncle Sam become Uncle Sap?” he said. “In a situation where billions of losses have already occurred, is it really asking too much that people pay their own legal fees?”

While the $6.3 million paid to defend Mr. Raines, Mr. Howard and Ms. Spencer is a pittance compared with other bills coming due in the bailout binge, it is still disturbing for these costs to be covered by those who had nothing to do with the problems and certainly did not benefit from them. The money may be small, but the episode’s message looms large: those who presided over this debacle aren’t being held accountable.

“It is wrong in a very deep sense,” Mr. Grayson said. “The essence of our society is that people who do good things are rewarded and people who do bad things are punished. Where is the punishment for Raines, Howard and Spencer? There is none.”