Political Party Time

DC lobbyist hosts another fundraiser for CO's Bennet

Normandy Group lobbyist Louis Dupart, who specializes in seeking earmarks and federal funding for clients, is hosting a fundraiser on July 20 for Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.

As we reported in February, the Normandy Group represents the Aurora Economic Development Council (AEDC), a public-private partnership between the City of Aurora and local businesses.  AEDC hired the firm to seek funding to build an interchange at a Colorado highway to help ease traffic near the Fitzsimons/Anschutz Medical campus. The Normandy Group also represents Forest City Enterprises, the developer of the massive 184 acre bioscience park. This is the second fundraiser that Dupart has hosted for Bennet this year. The lobbyist and his wife, Theresa, have given the senator a total of $1,500 since 2008, the most recent a $1,000 contribution in March, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Bennet lists the project here in his 2011 appropriations requests as a "request not submitted," stating, "Please note there are a limited number of requests I can effectively make every year. There will be worthy projects that do not make the list, but are eligible to submit a funding request the following year." Bennet campaign spokesman Trevor Kincaid said that the senator has a policy of not seeking any local highway funding because it "interferes with state and local decisions," adding that Dupart hosted the fundraiser because he is "just a supporter."

Earmarks are a hot election issue for Sen. Bennet, who has introduced a bill that would ban earmarks to private, for-profit entities, as well as "make improvements to web disclosures of earmarks, including earmarks searchable by any lobbyist associated with them." His would-be GOP opponent in the Senate race, Jane Norton, has criticized him for not supporting an all-out moratorium on these projects. (Note: the Sunlight Foundation supports legislation that would create a centralized, online, searchable database of earmarks.)

Dupart has hosted at least a dozen fundraisers for Colorado politicians since 2006. On the House side, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., who has also been feted by Dupart (See this fundraiser in March and this one from 2009) took credit in an April newsletter, stating "Getting funding for this project and getting it moving is one of my top priorities in Congress." Perlmutter has  requested an earmark for $8.5 million for the completion of the final phase of the project, as we reported here.

Dupart's fundraising goes beyond the Colorado delegation. In 2010, he's hosted at least 19 parties, all but three at the eatery Bistro Bis. His clients include a range of entities seeking federal funding for various projects, including American Systems Corporation, Central College, and the City of Pensacola.  In February, Dupart told the Pennsacola News Journal (subscription required) that the firm has a goal of getting clients a minimum of 10-to-1 return on investment. Dupart did not return a call requesting comment.