Former Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles will go to jail for lying to Congress, a judge concluded yesterday. Griles
allegedly obstructed the Congressional investigation into the activities of lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Griles pleaded guilty in March to lying to the Senate about his relationship with Abramoff. In the plea agreement, prosecutors recommended a sentence of five months of house arrest and five months in prison.
But [District Court Judge Ellen] Huvelle imposed a sterner penalty of 10 months in prison and a $30,000 fine. She said she wanted to send a message to deter wrongdoing by high-ranking government officials. Defense attorneys had asked for three months of home detention, community service and a "reasonable fine." . . .
The judge said that years of public service were no cause for leniency. "You held a position of trust as number two in the Department of Interior, and I will hold you to a higher standard," Huvelle told Griles. "I find that, even now, you continue to minimize and try to excuse your conduct and the nature of your misstatements."
UPDATE: Those commenters who noted there was no reason to use the word "allegedly" above are correct. Griles pled guilty and was convicted. Since the beginnings of the Bush Administration, the Interior Department has been divided between those who sought to pursue principled conservative environmental policies, and those who pandered to industry interests and well-connected lobbyists. There is little question that Griles fit squarely into the latter camp.