Conflict of Special Interests

The scandal around indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and PR executive Michael Scanlon now includes former Deputy Interior Secretary-turned-consultant J. Steven Griles and his friend Italia Federici, who heads the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy. Emails from late 2002 show Abramoff and Federici urged Griles to block a proposed casino that would compete with Abramoff's client's casino. Abramoff wrote Federici, "This is the casino we discussed with Steve and he said that it would not happen. ... The way to stop it is for Interior to say they are not satisfied with the environmental impact report." Months later, the project was stalled for just that reason. In 2003, Abramoff reportedly said "he was trying to arrange for his firm, Greenberg Traurig LLP, to hire" Griles. A federal task force is investigating potential violations, including that Griles might have been negotiating "for a job while being involved in decisions affecting the potential employer."