Gale A. Norton

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Gale A. Norton, the first woman to head the U.S. Department of the Interior, was sworn in January 2001.

Norton resigned as Secretary March 16, 2006, announcing that "she's giving up the Cabinet position to set 'new goals to achieve in the private sector,' and settle with her husband 'closer to the mountains we love in the West.'" [1]

President George W. Bush nominated Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne as her successor.


At the time that she was being considered for the appointment by President George W. Bush, her connections to corporations deeply involved in the metals industry were under scrutiny.

Norton was then Colorado Attorney General (1991-99). As a "negotiator of the $206 billion national tobacco settlement, Norton represented Colorado and 45 other states as part of the largest lawsuit settlement in history."[2]

Norton was listed with the Colorado Legislature as a lobbyist for, among others, NL Industries, a Houston company formerly known as National Lead Company. Norton's Denver law firm -- Brownstein Hyatt & Farber -- was also listed with the U.S. Congress as a lobbyist for NL Industries.[3]

In 1999, Norton joined Brownstein Hyatt & Farber. Congressional records revealed in 2001 that the law firm lobbied in Washington for a total of 45 clients, "including some with political interests before the Interior Department": Delta Petroleum Corporation (interested in 'offshore resources'); Timet-Titanium Metals Corporation (metals processor); the Shaw Group (makes pipes for oil companies and power plants); Ustman Technologies (monitors underground storage tanks); and Warren Rogers Associates (sells products and services for chemical and petroleum storage tanks).[4]

"Prior to her election as Attorney General, Norton served in Washington, D.C. as Associate Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior, overseeing endangered species and public lands legal issues for the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. She also worked as Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and, from 1979 to 1983, as a Senior Attorney for the Mountain States Legal Foundation."[5]

"Norton graduated magna cum laude from the University of Denver in 1975 and earned her law degree with honors from the same university in 1978. Before becoming Interior Secretary, Norton was senior counsel at Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber, P.C."[6]

"Former Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton is a protegee of Ronald Reagan Interior Secretary James Watt. She was hired by the Mountain States Legal Foundation in 1979. In 1983 Norton moved to the right-leaning Hoover Institution, where she urged a market-based approach to controlling air pollution. She also served on the advisory boards of two other right wing groups, Defenders of Property Rights and the Washington Legal Foundation. In 1998, she founded a group called the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA) to counter the image that Democrats are the party that protects the environment. But Martha Marks, the head of a rival GOP group called Republicans for Environmental Protection, said the group was a front to obscure the records of Republicans with bad environmental records. Indeed the sponsors for CREA's kickoff gala included the Chlorine Chemical Council, National Coal Council, Chemical Manufacturers Association, and the National Mining Association." [7]


  • 1979-1983: Senior Attorney, Mountain States Legal Foundation
  • 1983: Hoover Institution
  • 1984-1985: Assistant to Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
  • 1985-1990: Associate Solicitor, Department of Agriculture: "where she worked to open the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to drilling. She served under both James Watt and Don Hodel and served on George Herbert Walker Bush's Western Water Review Commission."[8]
  • 1991-1998: Colorado's first female attorney general, served two terms
  • 1998: Founded Council for Republicans for Environmental Advocacy
  • 1999: Served as George W. Bush's environmental advisor
  • 1999: Brownstein, Hyatt, and Ferber ["Denver's most politically connected law firm." (Rocky Mountain News, Dec. 30, 2000)]
  • 1999: Registered lobbyist (Colorado) for City of Black Hawk, CO, and NL Industries (formerly National Lead Company), which is controlled by the Tremont Corporation

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