While the two kept their relationship under wraps, they did what they could to help one another.
In February of 2004, Wooldridge wrote a letter to the Inspector General siding with Griles. And the IG's report, which finally came out in March of that year, harshly criticized Griles, but stopped short of saying he'd broken any ethics rules.
At about the same time, Wooldridge was promoted to be the Solicitor of the Interior Department. Griles recommended her for the spot, according to The Legal Times.
Even then, she continued to conceal the relationship. At her confirmation hearing before the Senate, Wooldridge was asked about any possible conflicts of interest, as she would now be overseeing all ethics matters at Interior. She said no. It was only sometime after Wooldridge became Solicitor that she finally revealed the relationship to Interior ethics officials for the first time, albeit privately.
In 2005, Griles left Interior to return to lobbying for energy interests, and Wooldridge was again promoted, this time to being the Justice Department's top environmental prosecutor. She was again asked during her Senate confirmation hearing if there were any possible conflicts of interest for her taking the job. She "did not mention Griles," reported Legal Times, "nor did she mention that GrilesÃ¢ÂÂ lobbying clients that year included the American Petroleum Institute, Consol Energy Inc., and Newmont Mining Corp."
Given all that, it can't be too surprising that in March of 2006, Griles and Wooldridge, who were already living in a condo together, decided to buy a $1 million vacation home with another oil lobbyist, Don Duncan, the top lobbyist for ConocoPhillips-- and that months later, Wooldridge, on behalf of the government, signed a deal to let ConnoPhillips "delay a half-billion-dollar pollution cleanup," as the AP first reported last week.
Wooldridge's lawyer has protested that ethics officials at the Justice Department had OK'ed buying the home. The logic apparently, was something like that of Griles' lawyer who complained to the Post, "What exactly is wrong with three close personal friends sharing a vacation/rental home?"
But thankfully for Wooldridge and Griles, they won't have to deal with any of the government's knotty ethical requirements anymore. Wooldridge resigned (or "decided to return to the private sector" as a Justice Department spokesman put it) three days after Griles was informed by federal prosecutors that he was a target in the Abramoff investigation.