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When the going gets tough, Republicans drop even their bestest friends like a lump of burning coal:

Lobbying Firm Cuts Ties to Name Partner Under Investigation in Abramoff Probe
Jason McLure
Legal Times
January 18, 2007

Lobbying firm Lundquist, Nethercutt & Griles has severed ties with former Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles.

Griles has been targeted in the Justice Department's ongoing corruption probe stemming from the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff.

(More after the jump.)

Griles, who had been a name partner at the firm, was a lobbyist for coal and energy interests both before and after his tenure at the Interior Department from 2001 to 2005. During Griles' stint at Interior, which oversees lucrative drilling and mining licenses on millions of acres of federal land, his ties to industry were the subject of a number of internal investigations.

Lundquist, Nethercutt & Griles did not respond to detailed questions about Griles' departure, including whether Griles was forced out by his partners and whether the firm would be renaming itself. Instead, the firm provided a statement saying Griles resigned as a partner effective Jan. 10. That same day, a number of news outlets reported Griles had been informed he was a target of federal prosecutors. A lawyer for Griles declined to comment on his departure.

Remember Andrew Lundquist?   Lundquist served as executive director of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force  (the National Energy Policy Development Group) from February 1, 2001, to September 30, 2001, then stayed on as Cheney's director of energy policy from October 1, 2001, to March 26, 2002, during which time he worked with Congress as it drafted the energy legislation, including the highly controversial plan to drill in ANWR.  

Lundquist, an Alaskan native, worked on the Hill for both Senators Murkowski and Stevens prior to joining the task force, including as majority staff director of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  

And Nethercutt?  From LNG's now defunct (but Google-cached) website:

George Nethercutt brings a wealth of public and private experience to Lundquist, Nethercutt & Griles, having served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 2005. Nethercutt's historic 1994 victory unseated then-Speaker of the House Tom Foley, the first defeat of a sitting Speaker since 1860. Nethercutt represented Washington's 5th Congressional District until choosing to run for the U.S. Senate in 2004. While in the House, Nethercutt served on the prestigious House Committee on Appropriations and the House Science Committee. Prior to his election to Congress, Nethercutt was a practicing attorney in Washington state, specializing in estate planning, probate and adoption law. He previously served as staff counsel, and then chief of staff, to U.S. Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, working on such issues as agriculture, fisheries, timber and mining.

Also on the staff of LNG is Howard Useem, who manages the lobbying firm's energy practice. Prior to joining Lundquist's first lobbying firm (with Joe Allbaugh, the former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief and ex-Bush campaign manager) in 2003, Mr. Useem had served for 24 years as the senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

I spent much of yesterday re-reading the SIAC September 2005 reporton Federici and Griles' part in the Abramoff scandal.  I found this part of the conclusion rather interesting, in light of the Griles current legal predicament:

From the evidence discussed above, it appears that some of the Tribes were induced into paying CREA because Abramoff told them, among other things, that those payments would get them favorable treatment at Interior. The evidence also suggests that Federici may have led Abramoff into believing that she had pull at Interior and that she would use it in exchange for, or because of, contributions by Abramoff's Tribal clients to CREA. Unfortunately, the extent to which Federici actually sought to influence Interior on pending matters affecting Abramoff's clients remains unclear. Also unclear is what, if anything, Griles (who Abramoff believed was Federici's contact at Interior) might have done on behalf of Abramoff's clients at Interior and (if Griles did anything) what his motives for doing so might have been.

Against that backdrop, the Committee is concerned about the veracity of Federici's testimony on several important areas, discussed above.  Additional inquiry into those areas by the appropriate authorities appears warranted.

But no mention of Steven Griles as a potential target of inquiry "by the appropriate authorities", one would assume being the Department of Justice.  Federici has been MIA from the Washington political scene since her November 2005 testimony.  She, and CREA, carried much, much greater clout in Republican circles than any of the recent news reports or Senate testimory indicate, which I'll go into greater detail in an upcoming diary.  However, should she turn, and become a witness for the DoJ, Griles would not be alone in fearing the Pandora's box of Republican slime and corruption she could open, dating back over a decade (as a teaser, Federici cut her teeth on Jeb Bush's failed 1994 gubernatorial campaign.)  And Griles former energy industry flogging partners could be in much deeper trouble than mere "guilt by association".

Originally posted to mbw on Thu Jan 18, 2007 at 07:04 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Here's an interesting factoid... (26+ / 0-)

    Should Griles be indicted, he will be the highest level Bush Administration official whose position required Senate confirmation to be so charged.

  •  Nice...now, if he could be flipped (5+ / 0-)

    and become a witness for the prosecution...

    Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
      Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
    Tempest even in reason's seat.

    by GreyHawk on Thu Jan 18, 2007 at 07:21:01 AM PST

  •  John Dean's impeachment strategy (9+ / 0-)

    Go after the "little" guys, like Federici and Griles. They don't have the marquee names or reflexive emotional support that (for 30%) still attaches to Bush and Cheney, but they do know where a lot of bodies are buried. Work up the ladder, cutting the political ground out from under the feet of the big guys.

    •  You don't get much bigger than Griles... (6+ / 0-)

      He was the COO of the Interior Department, almost as powerful as Norton (he ran day-to-day operations.)  She was really just the "face" of the department; Griles was the go-to man on most issues.

      Part of the problem is that, other than environmentalists and Indians, few people care about the goings-on at Interior, which is frankly stunning, as a full one-fifth of US land comes under its jurisdiction.  Plus all the oil, gas, coal, minerals, forests, grazing lands, etc., etc., on and under that land (and sea as well.)

      •  There's always Cheney. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        subtropolis, Snarcalita, willb48

        And, Norton, too.  Who's busy socking away $$ as chief counsel for Shell Oil nowadays.  (Took the job less than a year after leaving her post heading Interior.)  So if she gets busted, she can have a soft place to land once her jail time's over.

        But yeah, Griles is a pretty big fish.  But I'm assuming he'll "cooperate" as best he can.  Once you're facing jail time yourself, you're not gonna be so picky about who else you're gonna protect.  Griles is your average industry hack, not inner circle like Libby.  Don't imagine political operatives are throwing fundraising parties for him, etc.

        Great catch.  And I'm glad I found it within the first hour, too!

      •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

        That's why I put "little" in quote marks. He's definitely a big fish, but still an under-the-radar guy in the public consciousness.

        By the way, great diary, gave you a rec.

  •  Cronies crooks and connections (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bayside, Land of Enchantment, willb48

    the confederation continues to confound.
    Follow the yellow brick road, right to the White House. Then look behind the curtain and you'll find the whizzer.
    What happens if Cheney's heart goes haywire? Oh, that's stupid thinking, he doesn't have a heart.

  •  mbw (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Land of Enchantment

    I'm glad you are on this trail. It is a robust line of inquiry.

    I think this will help explain why the members of the Cheney Energy task force had to be kept secret.

    As the Washington Post reported, Abramoff was very interested in oil and energy issues and tight with mr. Griles:

    He was able to befriend J. Steven Griles, the deputy interior secretary, e-mails and interviews show. By the sum mer of 2001, Abramoff was referring to him in an e-mail to a client as "our guy Steve Griles." Federal investigators are now looking into whether Griles interceded on behalf of Abramoff and improperly discussed a job with the lobbyist while in a position to affect his clients. Griles denied any wrong doing in recent testimony to the Senate. [snip]

    Another Abramoff financial vehicle was the nonprofit American International Center, a Rehoboth Beach, Del., "think tank" set up by Scanlon, who staffed it with beach friends from his summer job as a lifeguard. The center became a means for Abramoff and Scanlon to take money from foreign clients that they did not want to officially represent. Some of the funds came from the government of Malaysia. Banks and oil companies there were making deals in Sudan, where U.S. companies were barred on human rights grounds. Sudan was among several oil-rich nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East that Abramoff eyed as venues for lucrative energy deals. Abramoff told associates he wanted to become a go-to person for U.S. companies seeking to do business with oil-patch nations.

    And then there is the connection through William Jarrell and Jennifer Calvert.

    Back in 1995, Grover Norquist said:

    ''What the Republicans need is 50 Jack Abramoffs, then this becomes a different town.''

    Jarrell and Calvert are two of those 50 "Jack Abramoffs".

    Jarrell is a former DeLay staffer and one of the first to start working with Jack (here is his SourceWatch bio). He was active throughout Abramoff’s time at Preston Gates and was deeply involved in all the crimes of that era.

    Jennifer Calvert was a former staffer for Rep. Joel Hefley (here is her SourceWatch bio). In 1999 she joined Abramoff’s team.

    Both are from Wyoming and have deep rotes in the State.

    Another interesting connection to the DOI is through Jennifer’s husband, Chad Calvert. He would become Gale Norton’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management after serving a stint in the Bush White House as deputy director of the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs.

    Hmm, the LMM. Interesting.

    With inside connection like these, 2001 was a great time for Jarrell and Calvert to set up their own lobbying shop, Washington Strategies. It is a GOP slush fund connected Lobbying firm. Like the Alexander Strategies Group, WS was a child of the bastard union of Abramoff, DeLay, K Street and the Republican Party.

    It is a shop with a Wyoming focus. By 2002, Chad was in the Bush White House and Jennifer could trade on that to build the lobbying business.

    And WS moves money to the GOP using the Abramoff slush fund model. Since 2001, they have moved $117,915 of disclosed donations to GOP candidates. Jennifer has sent $52,365 and $6,100 of that went to Barbara Cubin.

    In 2001, Jack Abramoff sent business to the new firm. He used one of his front companies (Capitol Campaign Strategies) to pass $9000 to Washington Strategies.

    In many ways, WS is a clone of the Abramoff lobbying team at Preston Gates of Greenberg Traurig: same folks, same MO and the same goal to fund the GOP effort to establish One Party Rule in the USA.

    And in what may be another fallout from the Abramoff, the marriage between Jennifer and Chad has ended. She is now married to her business partner, William Jarrell.

    SourceWatch provides a list of  WS current clients and, in a disturbing trend among the Baby Jack’s, WS counts several Wyoming cities as clients (paying around $40,000 a year to talk to their Congresswoman through a lobbyist).

    A long comment, I guess it could be a Diary in its own right.

    The nexus between Abramoff, Washington Strategies, the Interior Department is a very rich scandal vein to dig in. I am certain that one can find DOI contracts that would rival what the Duke scandal uncovered with DOD contracts.

    Happy hunting...

    Change the way America does business, visit Co-opAmerica.org

    by dengre on Thu Jan 18, 2007 at 12:03:50 PM PST

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