In 1990, Norton became the first female to be elected Colorado Attorney General, a position she held for eight years.
As Attorney General, Norton represented Colorado in the nationwide tobacco litigation and was a strong advocate of Colorado’s “self-audit” law, which allows companies to conduct voluntary audits to determine whether they are complying with environmental requirements.
Norton began her career at the Denver-based Mountain States Legal Foundation, a conservative think tank that opposes the government’s role in environmental protection. Previously she worked as a lawyer for the Interior Department during the Reagan administration under Secretary James Watt. Norton also served on the Western Water Policy Commission under former President Bush.
Unpopular with many environmentalists, Norton prefers free market solutions to environmental problems rather than regulation and enforcement. Working under Reagan’s Interior Secretary, she advocated opening up the protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.
In the middle of her second term as attorney general, Norton ran for U.S. Senate but lost in the primary. After finishing out her term, Norton took a job with the politically influential Colorado law firm of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Strickland.
Norton, a Kansas native, moved to Colorado as a child and received her undergraduate and law degrees from Denver University.
Norton’s support for abortion rights may draw some fire from conservative members of Bush’s party, although as Secretary of the Interior she would have little influence over social issues.