Jane Norton Hit From All Sides

The Colorado Independent caught Senate candidate Jane Norton claiming, with her own laugh track, that she has not “been” a lobbyist:

In an interview with a Colorado Springs radio talk show host Tuesday, Former lieutenant governor and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Jane Norton said she has never worked as a lobbyist. She was responding to callers looking to feel out her conservative credentials…

It was the kind of clear if undeveloped answer campaign observers have been seeking for months. Indeed, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has been doggedly monitoring Norton appearances this winter, sent out a release Thursday mocking Norton’s assertion as a “bogus claim” and arguing that the candidate was running from her work as a lobbyist to “curry favor from the far-right anti-establishment Tea Party crowd or because she doesn’t want Coloradans to know the real reason she is opposing health care reform.”

Asked Thursday whether the campaign was standing by the claim, Norton spokesman Nate Strauch emailed a statement to the Colorado Independent that will fail to satisfy skeptics.

“During Mrs. Norton’s tenure at [Medical Group Management Association], she worked to monitor healthcare reform proposals across the nation on behalf of the organization’s members. She has never been a registered lobbyist.”

Well no, not registered. Which seems to be at the heart of the confusion:

In the talk-radio interview Tuesday, Norton laughed at the notion raised by a caller that her husband was a lobbyist. He is not. But her sister, Judy Black, is a lobbyist, and Norton’s ties to national big-money lobbyists are well reported…

As the campaign now says, Norton has never been a registered lobbyist.

But as the Colorado Independent reported in September, from 1994 to 1999, Norton headed the lobbying department of Englewood-based MGMA, “the principle voice for the medical practice association.” Norton was the executive director of the Office of State Government Relations and the Office of Strategic Relationships.

Directly after her tenure at MGMA, Norton was appointed by Gov. Bill Owens to head the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment, a position in which she oversaw multiple state “planning groups” that engineered health coverage across Colorado, this time being paid by tax payers to work as the “principle voice” for health-care consumers.

MGMA confirmed to the Colorado Independent at the time that Norton headed the association’s lobbying department. “Yes, this is the lobbying arm of the organization,” a spokesperson at the Department of Government Affairs said. Human Resources staffer Jenny Morales said that the group Norton headed used to be called the Office of Strategic Relationships and is now simply called the Department of Government Affairs…

None of this is really new, but it’s timely after Norton’s latest on-air denial. The best we can figure is that as management, she can technically say she wasn’t herself “registered” to lobby. Just the lobbyists she directly supervised as the head of the “lobbying arm,” see the difference? If you don’t, apparently Norton’s response is to laugh at you.

In other news, conservative blogs report that former Rep. Tom Tancredo, who you recall was instrumental in the “Platform for Prosperity” talks intended to unify the GOP behind gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis, is publicly bad-mouthing Norton every chance he gets. From the “People’s Press Collective”:

The highlight of the event was the fireworks provided by former U. S. Representative and Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo. He railed against recent Republican presidential nominee John McCain as a big government, liberal Republican.

But he did not stop there. He painted former Lt. Governor and current Colorado Republican candidate for U. S. Senate Jane Norton with the same can of paint. Tancredo professed his belief that McCain is doing his best to recruit big government Republican candidates throughout the country, including Norton, in an effort to continue his failed statist legacy. Tancredo said Norton fits the McCain mold, and that he could not support her candidacy.

Tancredo made it clear he thinks neither McCain nor Norton believe in conservative principles.

Tancredo said he supports Weld County D.A. Ken Buck in the Republican race for the Senate nomination.

Look, it is Tom Tancredo we’re talking about here, the most off-reservation of Colorado talking heads–the only people likely to take his opinion seriously are a relatively small segment of ardently conservative voters, and of course “Tea Party” activists. Nothing Tancredo says about Norton will make a whit of difference beyond the GOP primary.

Oh, wait a minute…

27 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. redstateblues says:

    I wonder if the GOP regrets clearing the field for Norton now, or if they still think she can stick it out.

  2. DavidThi808 says:

    Jane Norton said she has never worked as a lobbyist.

    If that statement is accurate, then registered is irrelevant – it’s was her primary job lobbying. And if you manage a group of lobbyists, where the primary role of your department is lobbying – then I think by definition you’re a lobbyist.

    • RedGreen says:

      She’s hanging on a technicality — that she didn’t personally lobby anyone, she just bossed the ones who did. Teabaggers love it when politicians evade responsibility on technicalities.

      • Another skeptic says:

        Looks to me like Norton hired and supervised lobbyists but didn’t lobby. I think there is a big difference.

        • MADCO says:

          You say dark pink, I say red.

          It doesn’t matter what the actual definition is- if voters’ perception is that she was a lobbyist, then to those voters she was. Is. Will be. whatever.

        • DavidThi808 says:

          The group she managed and the results she was accountable for were lobbying. So it’s akin to saying the CEO of Ford is a auto manufacturer as that is the primary role of the groups that report to him.

          And I think most people would agree with that characterization.

        • redstateblues says:

          to make sure she’s not perceived that way? Why not attach yourself to someone like Ken Buck who doesn’t have such deep-rooted ties to lobbying and the industry surrounding it?

  3. Ralphie says:

    Liar or not, lobbyist or not, she will be the candidate.

    To her opponents on the Democratic side: keep your powder dry.

  4. abraham says:

    I am not a Norton fan by any means, but come on folks, get a perspective.  It is not important whether someone has been a lobbyist, what is important is what they lobbyied for or against.  Complaining that someone is a registered lobbyist is like complaining that they are a licensed driver or a registered voter – it just indicates that they were in compliance with the law.

    What is important is what they lobbyied for or against.  It is even more important if that subject was contrary to their personal beliefs – that suggests a certain mercenary tendency.  If Norton was lobbying for NARAL given her pro-life beliefs, that is relevant.  If she was lobbying for Focus on the Family, that is perfectly consistent with her beliefs.

    What if she had lobbyied for Children’s Hospital or Western Resource Advocates?

    Come on now, she has plenty of things to attack her on based on her public life as the head of the Health Department and then Lt Governor.  Let’s get focused and get over the pettiness.

    • Spade my dog says:

      I agree.  It doesn’t matter that she was a lobbyist, what matters is that she denies it.

    • OneEyedOwl says:

      Repubs can’t wait to label an opponent as a “lawyer/lobbyist,” but for some reason they think the label should never apply to anyone of their political persuasion.

      Lobbyists come from all sides of every issue, and they are, for good or ill, a necessary part of our legislative system. Being a lobbyist isn’t itself a bad thing. What counts is what issues you lobbied on, how you conducted yourself as a lobbyist, and whether you take responsibility for the results of your lobbying.

      Or, in Norton’s case, just say you were a lobbyist and move on. Just stop with the bullshit.

    • MADCO says:

      But fortunately votes get to decide wha’ts important to them.

      What – you don’t like that guy’s hair?  That’s not important.

      So what that guy slept with his assistant?  That’s not important.

      So he had an affair? How is that relevant?

      ANd yet -voters decide what’s important to them. go figure.

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