Commentary: The revolving door in Washington
"Last week former Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice after admitting that he lied to Senate investigators about his relationship with Jack Abramoff. According to an account in the New York Times, prosecutors said that Abramoff had “sought and received” advice from Griles on behalf of his Indian tribe clients; the newspaper also produced an email in which Abramoff referred to Griles as “our guy” at the Interior Department—“the one who gets everything done.”

Though unrelated to the Abramoff case, an inspector general's report from 2004 described Griles's entire tenure at Interior as an “ethical quagmire.” Previously an oil and gas lobbyist, Griles became a chief architect for the Bush Administration's energy policies, and his friends occasionally benefited in the process. For example, his former lobbying client Advanced Power Technologies won $2 million in contracts from the Interior Department when he was at the helm, and Griles also pressed the EPA to support a plan, developed by six other former clients, to drill for oil in Wyoming and Montana. Upon leaving the public sector, Griles formed a lobbying firm called Lundquist, Nethercutt & Griles with former White House National Energy Policy Director Andrew Lundquist and retired Congressman George Nethercutt. The firm's clients included the American Petroleum Institute, BP, Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation, and CONSOL Energy Inc. (and that covers only the first three letters of the alphabet).

The “revolving door” is not unique to this administration, but it's been spinning like a pinwheel since Bush took office. Top officials involved in energy policy are among those who have moved through it with particular alacrity and profitability, which is no surprise given the administration's pro-industry stance."

Get the Story:
Ken Silverstein: Meet the Revolvers (Harper's Magazine 3/28)

Relevant Documents:
DOJ Press Release | Charge of Information | Plea Agreement | Statement of Facts | Earl Devaney Statement

November 2, 2005, Hearing:
Transcript | Webcast | Testimony

Cobell Declarations:
November 15, 2001 | June 4, 2002

Inspector General Report:
J. Steven Griles Investigation (March 2004)

From the Indianz.Com Archive:
Norton stripping BIA of trust duties (November 16, 2001) | Tribal leaders in uproar over proposal (November 16, 2001) | Griles taking lead on trust reform (November 5, 2001)

Indianz.Com Profile:
Deputy Secretary: J. Steven Griles (3/9)

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