Cozy at the Beach

Let’s face the facts, one reason the government has failed protect our land and wildlife lately is because there are a white collar criminals running the Dept. of Interior and other government agencies. . . and in case they were literally in bed with big oil.

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In case you haven’t read those parts of this blog regarding top Dept. of Interior officials and possible corruption, a big story is breaking about J. Steven Griles, the former No. 2 official at the Interior, and others. I have always referred to Griles as “ethically challenged,” but now more meat is being put on the bones of the story.

The matter also reaches into the Department of Justice. Sue Ellen Wooldridge, the nations’s top environmental prosecutor owned a plush vacation house with Griles. They were sweethearts. The major owner of the house, however, was ConocoPhillips Vice President Donald R. Duncan. Wooldridge and Duncan purchased the house nine months before she agreed to allow ConocoPhillips delay a $525-million pollution cleanup.

Griles, who is now an oil and gas lobbyist, began dating Wooldridge when she was in the Dept. of Interior, and he was her boss.

In a separate matter, Griles has been told by prosecutors that he is a target of the continuing investigation of convicted felon lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his ties to the Department of Interior where he repeatedly sought special favors.

Here are a series of stories.

Feb. 17. Cozy at the Beach. Editorial in the Washington Post. “A Justice Department lawyer invests with a lobbyist, settles with his company — and is told there’s no ethics problem.”

Feb. 17. Ethics Story Thickens Over Abramoff-Interior Relationships. By Todd Wilkinson, New West.

Feb. 17. House panel hears of Dept. of Interior management mess. By Noelle Straub. Casper Star Tribune.

Feb. 15. How feds’ top environmental prosecutor built home with big-oil lobbyist. By John Heilprin



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  1. kt Avatar

    Well, I sure hope that new Kempthorne Interior Department Conduct Accountability Board in the Casper paper article starts looking at all that went on in Idaho when K Lynn Bennett, rancher, was Idaho BLM Director for several years. Like at all the BLM payments to range “consultants”. Like appointing folks to manage the same Field Offices while their relatives are running cattle – as in the Challis BLM Manager right now. The Accountability office can also look into BLM moving an office from Boise to Marsing, and signing a deal to give the office building to Owyhee County in a few years. AND like BLM constantly failing to issue trespass notices to politically connected ranchers even when blatant trespass was occurring.

  2. mikarooni Avatar

    Well, I have to reiterate and paraphrase things to be able to fully grasp them. So, as I have said to others, we seem to have the deputy interior secretary in an extramarital relationship with his assistant attorney general in charge of environment and natural resources and both of them partnering with a lobbyist for an industry that they were supposed to be regulating to purchase a ~$1 million vacation hideaway.

    In this context, I guess that I would have some pointed questions. First, do you think that this kind of stuff is what the Christian community thought they were supporting when they backed this current slate of GOP filth? Second, do you think they do threeways down there in their island bungalow?


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan