Three weeks ago, Chatterbox posed the question of whether the J. Steven Griles nominated to the No. 2 spot at Interior was the same J. Steven Griles cited in July 1975 by the Richmond Police Department for breaking and entering with "intent to commit assault felony" and ultimately convicted of "trespass misdemeanor," according to an apparent FBI document that Chatterbox obtained from an intermediate source. Since then, the same reporters who are tirelessly bearing down on Jenna Bush for underage college drinking have demonstrated no interest whatsoever in the story of an alleged attempted assault by a high-ranking nominee in Dubya's administration. (Since writing the first item, Chatterbox has established, via a Social Security check, that the two Grileses are one and the same.) The only thing even vaguely resembling a follow-up was a brief mention in Howie Kurtz's daily Washingtonpost.com column on the press. ("If it wasn't true, they'd deny it, right?")
Neither Griles, whose nomination is still pending before the Senate, nor the Interior Department will consent to talk about the alleged 1975 incident. Chatterbox tried to obtain a copy of the police report, but a spokesman for the Richmond police said that the department had purged all police reports predating 1983. Richmond court records have also apparently been chucked, and the Virginia state police say they are prevented by law from divulging Griles' criminal record to the media without Griles' permission. (If Chatterbox ever has the misfortune to get arrested, he hopes it's in Virginia!)
Shortly after the first item appeared, however, Kennedy Maize, editor of Electricity Daily, wrote in to "The Fray":
As a reporter for Energy Daily back in the 1980s, when Griles was up for confirmation in the Senate, I was leaked this same document. I checked it out with theRichmondPD and elsewhere and concluded that the event in question was a domestic altercation during a nasty divorce. There was no physical assault, no breaking and entering. Pretty ordinary stuff. I decided not to write the story, as I didn't think it had much relevance to the guy's qualifications.
Chatterbox doesn't think we need to worry that Maize has it in for Griles. Most obviously, he clearly thinks the story of Griles' alleged altercation has little merit. Quite apart from Maize having worked for the energy trade press, which is not particularly sympathetic to environmentalism, for a very long time, Maize himself shows no signs of being a raving green. (Click here to read Maize's favorable review of Hard Green: Saving the Environment From the Environmentalists, by Peter Huber of the conservative Manhattan Institute.) Maize's recollections jibe with those of Carolyn Johnson, staff director of the Citizens Coal Council--an environmental group that, of course, does have an ideological ax to grind with Griles--who today informed Chatterbox that she, too, read the Richmond police report in the 1980s. In an interview, Maize provided Chatterbox with a bit more detail:
To the best of my memory, [Griles] was separated from his wife, going through a nasty contested divorce, and, as the cops explained it to me, as I recollect, he showed up outside her apartment, apparently to get something, and a shouting match ensued. As the police told me, the way they reconstructed it, he said nasty things to her, and she apparently reciprocated, and then she picked up the phone and called the cops.
If that's really all there is to it, Griles' stonewalling is bafflingly self-defeating. If that isn't all there is to it, Griles' stonewalling is unacceptable. Either way, Chatterbox thinks Griles' alleged brush with the law is bigger news than Jenna Bush's.