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Lobbying firm Lundquist, Nethercutt & Griles has severed ties with former Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles. Griles has been targeted in the Justice Department’s ongoing corruption probe stemming from the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff. Griles, who had been a name partner at the firm, was a lobbyist for coal and energy interests both before and after his tenure at the Interior Department from 2001 to 2005. During Griles’ stint at Interior, which oversees lucrative drilling and mining licenses on millions of acres of federal land, his ties to industry were the subject of a number of internal investigations. Lundquist, Nethercutt & Griles did not respond to detailed questions about Griles’ departure, including whether Griles was forced out by his partners and whether the firm would be renaming itself. Instead, the firm provided a statement saying Griles resigned as a partner effective Jan. 10. That same day, a number of news outlets reported Griles had been informed he was a target of federal prosecutors. A lawyer for Griles declined to comment on his departure. In testimony before Congress in 2005, Griles told senators that as the Interior Department’s No. 2, he had been approached by Abramoff about joining Greenberg Traurig, the firm where Abramoff worked. Griles told the senators, however, that he had not granted Abramoff or his Indian tribal clients special access to the department. In January 2006, Abramoff pleaded guilty to defrauding several of those clients, among other charges. He was later sentenced to five years in prison. A source with knowledge of the investigation says prosecutors are exploring whether to charge Griles with lying to Congress and honest-services fraud. As a lobbyist, Griles has most recently represented the American Petroleum Institute, Mettiki Coal, Newmont Mining Corp., and other large mining and energy interests on a number of environmental and regulatory issues. Lundquist, Nethercutt & Griles generated $780,000 in lobbying revenue during the first six months of 2006, according to disclosure forms filed with the Senate.
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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