Sunday, March 25, 2007

Steven Griles Admits to Lying: Exclusive Report from Former Employee

This week, the former No. 2 official in the Interior Department, Steven Griles, has admitted to lying. He is the 10th person -- and the second high-level Bush administration official to face criminal charges in the continuing Justice Department investigation into Abramoff's lobbying activities.

I’ve kept my eye on Griles for years; he’s anathema to environmentalists. While in Interior Department, he continued to have ties to energy and mining companies that were once his lobbying clients, the same companies he was charged with overseeing.

There’s a good description of why Griles is facing incarceration in the March 24 Washington Post, Ex-Official At Interior Hid His Ties to Abramoff.

However, I offer you an exclusive story about Steven Griles from someone who worked for him, my friend, Janie Sheppard (photo), an attorney who now lives in Ukiah, California.

Janie, a retired career federal employee, first met Steve Griles in 1976 during the Carter Administration when she was sent by a task force in charge of implementing the brand new Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) to talk to a committee of the Virginia legislature. At the time, Griles was an assistant to the Governor of Virginia. The Governor's supporters did not want to see SMCRA, which regulates the environmental effects of coal mining, enacted. Griles assured Janie that it would be a friendly session--just some questions about how SMCRA would work.

Janie said the session was extremely hostile. At the end, Janie confronted Griles, telling him that he lied about the nature of the session. His response, she said, was to grin a teenage boy grin and say "that's politics."

After Reagan was elected, Griles became the Director of the Office of Surface Mining where Janie's job was to assess civil penalty fines against coal mining operators whose operations had been found to be in violation of SMCRA. Griles tried to abolish the assessment office, which, but for the environmentalists who had fought long and hard for SMCRA, he would have accomplished.

Seeing the handwriting on the wall--that she was persona non grata--Janie got assigned to another job. At the end of that assignment, Griles made it clear he would make it as difficult as possible for her to get another government assignment--reportedly saying at a high level meeting of political appointees. "Why would we want to help her, a Democrat, environmentalist, feminist?"

Well, the story continues with Griles attempts to get her fired countered by Janie's maneuvers to stay employed (which she did). After the Reagan administration, Griles was fired. The first President Bush refused to keep him, having gleaned how dishonest he was. Even Peabody Coal wouldn't hire him.

By the time Griles regained a foothold in the Interior Department as the Deputy Secretary under Gale Norton, Janie had retired so she warned her friends about him. One by one they came to see how slimy he in fact was.

And now, thanks to what remains of our criminal justice system, Griles is going to jail. Janie has a big smile on her face--Democrat, feminist, environmentalist vindicated!


Anonymous said...

Ah, some justice remains.

Pat said...

What a great read!

Ann said...

Janie, you're a doll! (We met in Ukiah, if you don't remember me--at the triathlon). Congratulations from another feminist progressive environmentalist.

I am so glad this had an outcome that brings affirmation to what you have known all along. Vindication is so sweet!

Gail, I hope you don't mind my congratulating Janie here--I have no other way to contact her.