ProgressNow Colorado takes aim at Jane Norton

michael huttner on fox.JPG
ProgressNow Colorado's Michael Huttner during a recent Fox News appearance.
How do you know that Jane Norton, who announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate yesterday, is the first Republican in the race feared by Democrats? Because she's already under attack by ProgressNow Colorado, the most effective and aggressive liberal-oriented media strike force in these parts. This week, multiple mailings impugning Norton have gone out under the signature of Michael Huttner, ProgressNow Colorado's founder and the co-author of 50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America, a book he's so on fire to sell that he actually appeared on Fox News to promote it. First up: a demand for Norton to "explain her history in 'government relations,'" which suggested that she might have disobeyed regulations by not registering as a lobbyist back in the '90s. That was followed by not one but two requests that Norton sign the "'Family Transparency Pledge' rejecting trips, gifts, campaign donations and benefits from relatives who are lobbyists." And don't be surprised if these broadsides are followed by missives implying that Norton wound up in former Governor Bill Owens cabinet as a sop to the nursing-home lobby -- a story first reported by Westword in 1999 and noted in Patricia Calhoun's Wake-Up Call earlier this morning.

Will future e-mails zero in on Ryan Frazier and Ken Buck, two other Republican senatorial hopefuls? Doubt it. Less than a day after declaring, Norton's the clear frontrunner -- and the principal ProgressNow Colorado target. Read the organization's latest assertions about her below:

Call for Jane Norton to explain her history in "government relations"

Failure to register as a lobbyist questioned

Denver -- Progre­­­ssNow Colorado, the state's largest online advocacy organization, called on former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton to immediately disclose her history in "Government Relations" for a health insurance lobbying organization, and to explain why she failed to ever personally register as a lobbyist. The call comes a day before Norton plans to announce her candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

"We call on Jane Norton to immediately come clean on her work history in 'Government Relations' for the for-profit health care industry," stated Michael Huttner, Founder and CEO of ProgressNow Colorado. "We also question why Norton did not register as a lobbyist when she was head of 'Government Relations' for a for-profit health industry lobbying organization."

Between 1994 and 1999, Norton was the Director of Government Relations for the Medical Group Management Association, the public policy and lobbying arm of a for-profit health trade lobbying organization. (Denver Post, December 19, 1999) Yet an extensive search of state and federal lobbyist disclosure records has not found any lobbying disclosure records by Norton. (search of U.S. Senate Clerk and Colorado SOS databases) The entire time, it appears that Norton never registered as either a federal or state lobbyist.

"We want to know the full extent of Norton's lobbying and whether she failed to comply with the law," stated Huttner.

Call for Jane Norton to sign "Family Transparency Pledge"

Follows questions raised about conflicts of interest with lobbyists

Denver -- ProgressNow Colorado, the state's largest online advocacy organization, called on former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton to sign the "Family Transparency Pledge" rejecting trips, gifts, campaign donations and benefits from relatives who are lobbyists.

"We call on Jane Norton to stand up against special interests in Washington and sign the 'Family Transparency Pledge' today," stated Michael Huttner, Founder of ProgressNow Colorado, the state's largest online progressive advocacy organization. "We believe that Norton needs to reject trips or economic benefits through her relatives who are lobbyists."

The pledge, which was given to Norton this morning at her campaign announcement in Denver, reads as follows:

"Family Transparency Pledge"

I, Jane Norton, pledge to the People of Colorado, that I am committed to fighting the undue influence of special interests in Washington, DC.

Accordingly, I pledge that I will reject any trips, gifts, campaign donations or economic benefits that are provided to me through my relatives who are lobbyists by the companies that hire them to influence public policy.

Download a printable .PDF copy of the Pledge here:
http://www.progressnowcolorado.org/page/-/Family%20Transparency%20Pledge.pdf

Norton's relatives who are lobbyists include:

Judy Black (Norton's sister) is a DC lobbyist whose clients include those from the for-profit health care and medical device companies, oil companies, chemical companies and the banking industry. (Washington Post, June 10, 2004; U.S. Secretary of the Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database, 9/10/2009)

Charlie Black (Norton's brother in law) is a DC lobbyist and was the "Most Prominent" lobbyist in the McCain Campaign, and made a lucrative career of representing foreign oil companies, tobacco companies, drug companies, auto companies and defense contractors. (Washington Post, 12/31/2007; Business Week, 7/19/2004)

Follows yesterday's lobbying cover-up:

This call comes one day after she failed to explain why she never personally registered as a lobbyist, even though she was the head of "Government Relations" for a health insurance lobbying organization. A call by the press yesterday to the company confirmed Norton headed "the lobbying arm" of the company. (Colorado Independent, 9/14/2009; Washington Times, 9/14/2009)

Between 1994 and 1999, Norton was the Director of Government Relations for the Medical Group Management Association, the public policy and lobbying arm of a for-profit health trade lobbying organization. (Denver Post, December 19, 1999) Yet an extensive search of state and federal lobbyist disclosure records has not found any lobbying disclosure records by Norton. (U.S. Secretary of the Senate Lobbyists Disclosure Database and Colorado SOS Lobbyist Database) The entire time, it appears that Norton never registered as either a federal or state lobbyist.


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