Norton: I Wasn’t A Lobbyist, I Did ‘Member Education’ On Health Care

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Colorado Senate hopeful Jane Norton (R) has been trying for months to square her public denials that she ever worked as a lobbyist with a fairly long paper trail indicating years worth of lobbying, or lobbying-like activity. Now she has a new explanation for the work she did in the 1990s.

In a strange exchange with the Colorado Statesman, Norton claimed she couldn’t recall the title of the lobbying job she had with the AARP in the mid-90s. “It was so short, I think it was even less than a six-month stint,” she said. “So that might have been why. But I can’t even remember what — May I get back with you on that and call you on it?”

For the record, she was AARP’s director of state government relations. But Norton’s campaign seemingly couldn’t bring itself to say that. So instead Norton’s campaign spokesperson followed up with the Statesman after the interview and vaguely offered that from December 1993 to March 1994 Norton “did member education on health and consumer issues.” In political jargon, that’s a euphemism of sorts for grassroots lobbying.Even if she never registered as a lobbyist per se, as her campaign claims, she definitely helped manage lobbying activities for multiple organizations. From 1994-1999, she headed the Office of State Government Relations for MGMA — a large association of medical professionals. The Colorado Independent confirmed with MGMA that the Office of State Government Relations is “the lobbying arm of the organization.”

Norton is trailing tea party favorite Ken Buck in the Colorado GOP Senate primary, and Democrats and Republicans have been all over her about this for weeks.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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