March 10 2006, 11:49 AM
Did the Abramoff kitchen get too hot for Interior Secretary Gale Norton? The AP reports that Interior Secretary Gale Norton will resign. Via Raw Story:
Abramoff's tribal clients donated $50,000 to a conservative environmental group founded by Norton, hoping to win face time with the Secretary. They eventually did. Former DeLay deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy helped Abramoff arrange a meeting with Norton, and within months, the lobbyist's clients were making huge contributions to the environmental group Norton started, the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy.The Denver Post has a lot more, particularly about the ethical controversies surrounding the former Colorado attorney general's tenure.
Norton cleared her top deputy, former lobbyist J. Steven Griles, after her inspector general said his conduct showed that the department's ethics system was "a train wreck waiting to happen." Griles is now under investigation for allegations that he did the bidding of convicted Indian casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Norton is still supporting him. Abramoff also funneled more than $500,000 to one of Norton's former political aides, Italia Federici, to gain access to her department, which makes key decisions about which tribes can open casinos. Norton said she had no qualms about Federici's activities. Norton's BLM director Kathleen Clarke remained after apparently violating her recusals from a Utah land-swap that investigators said would have shortchanged the federal government. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said the deal involved a "jaw-dropping ... apparent cover-up" within Norton's department.A source for Norton says her resignation is not tied to Abramoff, but the result of her "wanting to go home."