Sunlight Foundation

Earmark seeking DC lobbyist fetes Coloradans

Louis Dupart, a lobbyist who has successfully sought earmarks from  Colorado politicians, will host a fundraising breakfast on Feb. 24 for Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., the second event for a Colorado lawmaker he's scheduled this month.

The event occurs in the middle of earmark  season the time of year when members of Congress decide on their funding requests for the next fiscal year and submit them to the two Appropriations Committees. House requests have to be submitted by March 19.

Dupart and his colleagues at The Normandy Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm that ranks appropriations and federal legislative issues among its specialties, have hosted or are scheduled to host at least nine fundraisers for Colorado politicians, including some who have requested earmarks for projects benefiting the firms clients.

In a Feb. 25, 2009 press release, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) -- who was the beneficiary of a fundraiser hosted by Dupart on September 30, 2009 -- noted that he'd secured $1,425,000 in funding for an interchange at Interstate 225 and Colfax Ave for the 2009 fiscal year. That's the same interchange that the Aurora Economic Development Council (AEDC), a nonprofit public-private partnership made up of businesses and officials from the city of Aurora, lists as a priority for its federal lobbying. The Normandy Group, which has represented the AEDC since May 2008, sought "federal funding for I-225 interchange" for its client, according to lobbying disclosure reports.

The project was aimed at relieving additional traffic created by a project that the AEDC had pushed a new health care complex called the Fitzsimons/Anschutz Medical campus. The Normandy Group also represents the developer of the massive 184 acre bioscience park,

Forest City Enterprises. Normandys lobbyists tracked highway spending in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus bill, and lobbied on funding for transportation projects in other appropriations bills for the developer, according to 2009 lobbying disclosure reports.

Several members of the Colorado delegation have sought funding for the I-225 project. In addition to Perlmutter, who included another request for funding for the project in his fiscal year 2010 earmark requests, former Sen. Ken Salazar, now Interior Secretary, and former Sen. Wayne Allard requested funding for the project. Dupart hosted at least two fundraisers for Salazar, on June 29, 2006, and March 13, 2008. In addition, the stimulus bill included funding for early phases of the project.

In an undated press release from the University of Colorado, which will operate several facilities at the new medical campus, Wendy Mitchell, president and CEO of the Aurora Economic Development Council, cited coordination between Colorados Congressional Delegation and the Anschutz/Fitzsimons Stakeholders Groupas making the funding a reality. In August 2009, the AEDC honored all the members of the Colorado congressional delegation with an A-List Leadership Award, presented by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and President and CEO of the Aurora Economic Development Council Wendy Mitchell.

Overall, the AEDC has reported spending $60,000 for the Normandy Groups services since 2008, and Forest City Enterprises, $540,000, although the developers interests included projects across many states.

When asked for comment by the Sunlight Foundation, AEDC Vice President Bryan Blakely said the Normandy Group primarily helped by organizing meetings and that while the groups assistance was beneficial, they do not wholly attribute the success of the construction project to its efforts.

Dupart was scheduled to host a fundraiser for Colorado freshman Democrat Rep. Betsy Markey on Feb. 11. The after-effects of a blizzard shut down much of Washington that day. Louis Dupart did not return calls asking for comment or if the event took place; neither did Rep. Markey's office.

Follow links to view invitations to parties hosted by Louis Dupart and other Normandy Group lobbyists for Colorado politicians:

Sen. Ken Salazar, 6/29/2006, host: Louis Dupart, breakfast, Bistro Bis.

Sen. Ken Salazar, 3/13/2008, host: Louis Dupart, breakfast, Bistro Bis.

Rep. (now Sen.) Mark Udall, host: Michael Rose, 4/24/2008, breakfast, Bistro Bis.

Rep. Diana DeGette, host: Louis Dupart, 7/16/2008, breakfast, Bistro Bis.

Rep. Diana DeGette, host: Louis Dupart, 9/23/2008, breakfast, Bistro Bis.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, host: Louis Dupart, 9/30/2009, breakfast, Art and Soul.

Rep. John Salazar, host: Louis Dupart, 12/3/2009, breakfast, Bistro Bis.

Rep. Betsy Markey, host: Louis Dupart, 2/11/2010, breakfast, Bistro Bis.

Sen. Michael Bennet, host: Louis Dupart, 2/24/2010, breakfast, Bistro Bis.

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