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|48th United States Secretary of the Interior|
January 31, 2001 – March 31, 2006
|President||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Bruce Babbitt|
|Succeeded by||Dirk Kempthorne|
|35th Attorney General of Colorado|
January 8, 1991 – January 12, 1999
|Preceded by||Duane Woodard|
|Succeeded by||Ken Salazar|
|Born||March 11, 1954|
Wichita, Kansas, U.S.
|Education||University of Denver (BA, JD)|
Gale Ann Norton (born March 11, 1954) served as the 48th United States Secretary of the Interior from 2001 to 2006 under President George W. Bush. She was the first woman to hold the position. Previously, Norton had served as Colorado's Attorney General.
Early life and education
Norton was born in Wichita, Kansas to Dale and Anna Norton. She was raised in Wichita and Thornton, Colorado, and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Denver in 1975. Norton earned her juris doctor degree with honors from that university's College of Law in 1978. In the late 1970s, she was a member of the Libertarian Party, and was nearly selected as its national director in 1980, before later becoming a Republican. Norton was influenced by the works of novelist Ayn Rand, and has been associated with a number of groups in the "wise use" or "free-market environmentalist" movement such as the Property and Environmental Research Center, of which she is a fellow.
Following her graduation from law school, Norton worked as a senior attorney at the Mountain States Legal Foundation from 1979-83. Norton was a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution during 1983-1984, before taking a position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an assistant to Deputy Secretary Richard Edmund Lyng. From 1985 to 1990, she served as Associate Solicitor for the United States Department of the Interior, in which capacity she managed attorneys employed by the National Park Service and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Colorado Attorney General
Norton returned to Colorado after her stint at the Department of the Interior, and was elected as the state's first female Attorney General in 1991. As Attorney General, Norton led the state's attorneys in defending state laws, including Colorado Amendment 2, a 1992 state constitutional amendment that prohibited any level or branch of state government from recognizing homosexuals as a protected class. Challenges to Amendment 2 reached the United States Supreme Court, which invalidated the amendment in Romer v. Evans (1996).
Norton ran for election to the U.S. Senate in 1996 as a Republican, but was defeated in the primary by then-Congressman Wayne Allard. During that year, Norton delivered a controversial speech in which she remarked that while state sovereignty had been misused to defend slavery prior to and during the Civil War, with the end of the war, the United States "lost the idea that the states were to stand against the federal government having too much power over our lives."
With the attorneys general of 45 other states, Norton participated in the negotiation of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (entered into in 1998) a settlement of Medicaid lawsuits by the states against U.S. tobacco companies for the recovery of public health costs attributed to the treatment of smoking-related illnesses. Norton's second term ended in 1999. Due to state term limits, she did not seek a third term.
After leaving the Attorney General's Office, Norton was a senior counsel at Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber, a Denver-based law firm.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior
She worked at Brownstein until President George W. Bush nominated her as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2001. Norton, the first female to hold the position, was confirmed by the Senate, served as Secretary until 2006. She was succeeded by Idaho governor Dirk Kempthorne.
On September 17, 2009, the United States Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation into whether Norton's employment at Royal Dutch Shell violated a law that bars federal employees from discussing employment with a company if the employee is involved in decisions that could benefit that company. The investigation focused on a 2006 decision by Norton's agency to grant oil shale leases to Royal Dutch Shell. The DOJ closed the investigation in 2010, declining to press charges.
At the time of her resignation as Secretary, Norton was considered "the Bush administration's leading advocate for expanding oil and gas drilling and other industrial interests in the West." After leaving Washington, she joined Royal Dutch Shell as a general counsel in its exploration and production business.
As of 2017, Norton worked for Norton Regulatory Strategies, an Aurora-based consulting firm that deals with environmental regulations. In 2012, she also was a senior adviser for Clean Range Ventures, an energy venture capital firm. She serves as a board member for the Federalist Society, the Reagan Alumni Association, and the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute at the University of Colorado.
- 1996 United States Senate Republican Primary (Colorado)
- Wayne Allard (R), 57%
- Gale Norton (R), 43%
Norton lives in Colorado with John Hughes, her second husband.
- List of female state attorneys-general in the United States
- List of female United States Cabinet Secretaries
- Chait, Jonathan (2009-09-14) Wealthcare, The New Republic
- "Chapter 14: Other Indicia of Animus Against LGBT People by State and Local Officials, 1980–Present" (PDF). United States District Court for the Northern District of California. June 30, 2013.
- Kettle, Martin (12 January 2001). "Echoes of slavery as Bush nominees back confederacy". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- Tankersley, Jim; Meyer, Josh (September 17, 2009). "Former Interior Secretary Gale Norton is focus of corruption probe". Los Angeles Times.
- Norton: Interior ethics probe a waste of money
- Wallsten, Peter and Tom Hamburger Cabinet Official Norton Resigns, Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2016.
- Norton will join Royal Dutch Shell – Steve McMillan, Denver Post, December 28, 2006
- Norton Regulatory Strategies Accessed October 4, 2012.
- About – Norton Regulatory Strategies Accessed September 27, 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gale Norton.|
- Official White House biography of Gale A. Norton, 2001–2006
- University of Denver profile of Gale A. Norton
- Collection of Gale Norton quotes
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- A memo written by Gale Norton in 1987 on 'endangered' Humans
- Remarks by Gale Norton at the opening of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site
- Gale Norton joining Royal Dutch Shell
| Attorney General of Colorado
| United States Secretary of the Interior