Sue Ellen Wooldridge

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Sue Ellen Wooldridge
Assistant United States Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources
In office
November 2005 – January 8, 2007
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Tom Sansonetti
Succeeded by Ronald J. Tenpas
Personal details
Born Sue Ellen Wooldridge
(1961-02-15) February 15, 1961 (age 56)
Carpinteria, California, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) James Steven Griles
Alma mater University of California, Davis (B.A.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)
Profession Lawyer

Sue Ellen Wooldridge (born February 15, 1961) is an American attorney and a former politically appointed U.S. government employee. She was formerly the United States Assistant Attorney General in charge of environment and natural resources, a division of the United States Department of Justice. As such, she was the U.S.'s top environmental prosecutor. She resigned from this post on January 8, 2007.


Wooldridge grew up on a farm in Artois, California. She holds a bachelor's degree in political science and history from the University of California, Davis (1983). She graduated with a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1987. She is admitted to practice law in the United States Supreme Court and in the state and federal courts of California.

She lived with J. Steven Griles, whom she began dating while he was one of her supervisors at the United States Department of the Interior,[1] and they were married in March, 2007, "three days after Griles pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his relationship with Jack Abramoff and a previous romantic partner."[2]


Prior to her service with the Department of Justice, Wooldridge served as Solicitor for the United States Department of the Interior, that agency's highest ranking lawyer, after being appointed by President George W. Bush in a recess appointment.[3] Prior to her employment in that capacity, she served as Counselor to J. Steven Griles, Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior; she also served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Counselor for Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, serving in that position beginning on January 31, 2001.

Prior to her position with the Department of the Interior, Wooldridge worked as a lawyer in private practice in Sacramento, California (from 1987 to 1994, and again from 1999 to 2001), served as general counsel to the non-partisan California Fair Political Practices Commission (2000), and served as a special assistant attorney general in the California Department of Justice).


In February 2007, it was reported that in March 2006 Wooldridge had purchased a $980,000 vacation homephoto on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, together with two other individuals: Don R. Duncan vice president for Federal and International Affairs and a lobbyist for ConocoPhillips(a Houston-based oil corporation) and J. Steven Griles, a former Deputy Interior Secretary of the United States (now an oil and gas lobbyist). Griles later pleded guilty to obstruction of justice in the Jack Abramoff affair.

Nine months after buying the home with Duncan and Griles, and just before stepping down, Wooldridge approved consent decrees giving ConocoPhillips three more years to pay millions of dollars in fines for a Superfund toxic waste cleanup and install pollution controls (which are estimated to cost US$525 million) at nine of its refineries.

After she resigned as Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources Division (“ENRD” ) a newspaper allegation was made against Ms. Wooldridge that she acted improperly by jointly purchasing a vacation home at Kiawah Island, South Carolina with J. Steven Griles, her then boyfriend at the time and former Deputy Secretary at the Department of Interior (“DOI”) and with their long-time friend Donald R. Duncan a lobbyist for ConocoPhillips. The assertion was made that she acted improperly by approving several consent decrees in litigation between the government and ConocoPhillips, supposedly giving the company preferential treatment. These allegations received wide circulation in the press and on Capitol Hill, to the great detriment to her reputation. A thorough and complete investigation into these allegations by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) established that Ms Wooldridge had not committed any impropriety.[3]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Mike Soraghan (April 20, 2007). "Three days after guilty plea, Griles ties the knot". The Hill. 
  3. ^ [2]

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