Interior Deputy Secretary Griles resigns

The No. 2 official at the Interior Department, Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, yesterday became the latest Bush administration appointee to announce he’s jumping ship come January. Under investigation during nearly half his tenure at Interior for ethics violations stemming from his uninterrupted $284,000 annual payments from his former employer, a lobbying firm, and for continued meetings with former clients, Griles, say critics, has been the poster child for conflict of interest in the Bush administration. The apparent conflicts were recognized even by the Interior Department’s inspector general, who, after concluding that Griles didn’t appear to violate any ethics rules, still called his actions an example of “an institutional failure” that could erode public trust in the department. Perhaps also contributing to a loss of trust was the opening of an estimated 160,000 acres of potential wilderness areas to oil and gas interests over the course of his nearly four-year stint at Interior. Griles now plans to go somewhere warm (no, not there) and work on his golf game.