Nethercutt, Griles Join Lundquist’s Lobby Firm

Posted January 31, 2005 at 5:53pm

Andrew Lundquist, a former White House energy adviser, is broadening his lobbying practice by adding two name partners: former Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.) and former Interior Department official Stephen Griles.

Nethercutt, who lost a Senate race last fall, joins two partners known for their conservative views on energy and environmental issues.

Lundquist founded the firm, which will now be known as Lundquist, Nethercutt & Griles, LLC, in 2002, after leading the Bush administration’s energy policy task force. That was the industry-heavy group spearheaded by Vice President Cheney that attracted lawsuits seeking to open its closed-door deliberations to outside scrutiny.

Griles was also a polarizing figure during his four years as deputy Interior secretary.

Before joining the administration, Griles worked for National Environmental Strategies, a lobbying firm. That firm bought out his equity stake by paying him in four annual installments of $284,000 through 2004. When Griles appeared to participate in discussions involving NES clients rather than recusing himself, environmental groups — who already decried Griles for an allegedly pro-industry bias — cried foul.

The department’s inspector general launched an investigation, which concluded Griles did not violate any ethics rules. He since has dismissed the charges against him as politically motivated.

Nethercutt, for his part, is on the rebound from a failed bid to unseat Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

In that campaign, Nethercutt was criticized for his involvement in a bill to create a new wilderness area near Seattle. Environmentalists and editorialists said he jumped on the issue for political gain, in the process endangering a carefully negotiated bipartisan accord.

Nethercutt said he was simply trying to broker a resolution.

Though the newcomers have made their marks recently in environmental policy, the expanded firm will have a wider focus.

Lundquist said he wants to grow the firm’s defense and telecommunications practices, in addition to expanding its work in energy and natural resources.

In his new role, Nethercutt said he is already close to signing contracts with new clients in the defense and natural resources sectors.

“They will come in the very near future,” he said.

A one-year lobbying ban prevents Nethercutt from directly trying to influence Members of Congress or their staffs.

The former lawmaker said that while he cannot walk the halls of Congress, he can provide clients with strategic advice, helping them “navigate the perils of the federal government.”

Griles, for his part, said he could have gone back to NES but preferred to join Lundquist and Nethercutt, whom he said “bring a different perspective to the practice we’re going to engage in.”

Lundquist declined to discuss the specifics of the new partners’ compensation packages.

“It’s somewhat unqualifiable,” he said, “because we’re all principals in the firm. We’ll all earn our keep.”