Public Corruption and Matters of the Heart

Boy, where Steven Griles’ heart leads, trouble follows.

Here’s a copy of the criminal information filed by prosecutors this morning; it lays out the facts to which Griles pled guilty this morning.

The filing reveals that Griles was romantically involved with Italia Federici (identified as Person A) from 1998 through 2003, and that it was that relationship which led to Jack Abramoff’s access to Griles while he was deputy secretary of the Interior. It also says that Griles lied to the committee to cover all that up.

Here’s how it worked. Federici runs a nonprofit called Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA), a conservative think tank. Since Federici was a former aide to then-Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and was well connected in the Interior Department, Abramoff found her very useful. His clients pumped $500,00 into her organization; in return, she ensured that people inside the department knew about his clients’ concerns. The person inside who was particularly helpful was Griles, the #2 there.

But Griles didn’t want the Senate to know any of this. So he lied.This isn’t the only time, of course, that investigators haven’t been told the truth about Griles’ dalliances. Griles and his current girlfriend, Sue Ellen Wooldridge, successfully kept their relationship from the department’s Inspector General when he was investigating Griles for lobbying for his old clients on the inside — at the time, Woolrdige, then Norton’s deputy chief of staff, had been charged with watching over Griles. But she didn’t tell the IG about the relationship.

Griles and Woolridge hit the papers last month because the pair bought a vacation home with an oil lobbyist — even though Woolridge at the time worked as the Justice Department’s top environmental prosecutor.

Update: So here are the terms of the plea, just out from the Justice Department: Griles faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He’s pled guilty to obstruction of justice.

The AP has reported that “federal prosecutors will seek no more than a 10-month prison sentence for Griles – the minimum they could seek under sentencing guidelines – but they will agree to let him serve half that in home confinement.”

Update: Here’s the “factual basis” for Griles’ plea, a document that goes into more detail about the case.