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Politics
Griles called to testify on Abramoff scandal


Clarification: The hearing takes place Wednesday, November 2. Witness List: http://indian.senate.gov/2005hrgs/110205hrg/110205wit_list.html.

Former Interior deputy secretary J. Steven Griles has been called to testify on the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, The Hill newspaper reports.

Griles is set to appear before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee tomorrow along with Italia Federici, a Republican activist with ties to Interior. Both were called by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the committee chairman, to testify about their alleged involvement in efforts to block a casino opposed the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, one of Abramoff's former clients.

According to documents and news reports, Griles opposed the casino after being contacted by Federici. According to documents and reports, Federici was Abramoff's conduit at Interior.

In addition to the Louisiana casino, Griles and Federici may have been involved in efforts to block casinos in Michigan that were opposed by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, another former Abramoff client. The committee may release additional e-mails on Wednesday that show how Abramoff lobbied Interior to block the Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi, whose land-into-trust application has been delayed for more than two years.

Abramoff, in an e-mail previously cited by The Washington Post, said that Griles was "committed" to blocking the Gun Lake effort. Abramoff then tried to hire Griles at his former lobbying firm.

The main focus of the hearing, however, will be the Coushatta Tribe. Slated to appear are Chairman Kevin Sickey, tribal council member David Sickey, former tribal council member William Worfel and former outside counsel Kathryn van Hoof, The Hill reports.

Get the Story:
McCain puts ex-official on hot seat (The Hill 11/1)

Relevant Documents:
CREA Memo to Interior (February 21, 2002)

Relevant Links:
Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy - http://www.crea-online.org/crea
Coushatta Tribe - http://www.coushattatribela.org

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