From Phil Hirschkorn and Laura Strickler
(AP Photo/Yuri Gripas)
In March, we reported on Steven Griles, the deputy secretary of the Interior Department during President Bush's first term, when he pleaded guilty to obstructing a government investigation into the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Now his former girlfriend, Italia Federici, who was a close political aid to former Interior Secretary Gale Norton and a go-between between Abramoff and Griles has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges of tax evasion and obstructing a U.S. Senate proceeding. She is due to enter her plea before a federal judge on Friday.
Federici's 2005 testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee was especially notable as she defied questioning by Arizona Republican John McCain, then committee chairman, who threatened her with contempt. In one exchange he asked, "Ms. Federici, I would very much appreciate it if you would specifically answer the question." To which she replied, "I'm proud of myself for having been personally helpful to a friend who had desperate clients." That friend was Abramoff.