Former Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton is suing Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, the governor of Colorado and two of his appointees, claiming that Planned Parenthood has been illegally receiving taxpayer dollars since 2009.
Norton claims the state has spent as much as $14 million on the organization in that time, in violation of both the state constitution barring public funds from being used for abortion services as well as an order to end payments to Planned Parenthood that she made when she was executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
In addition to Planned Parenthood, Gov. John Hickenlooper, current CDPHE director Larry Wolk and Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance director Susan Birch are named as defendants.
As health department director in 2001, Norton suspected that Planned Parenthood was using some of the public money given to it by the state to directly or indirectly fund abortion, which is specifically prohibited by a 1984 amendment to the state constitution.
An independent audit of the organization found it didn’t properly separate state funds from those used to help pay the rent for affiliated organizations that provide abortions.
As a result, Norton canceled a 24-year contract with Planned Parenthood that required state funds be separately maintained and accounted from those used for abortion services.
“If Planned Parenthood wants to accept state tax dollars, it is their responsibility to demonstrate that they comply with the state constitution,” the director of the health department’s office of legal affairs said in a 2001 press release included as an exhibit in Norton’s lawsuit.
Her order cutting off state funds was ignored beginning in January 2009, the lawsuit alleges, and the women’s health organization has been receiving state funds ever since.
The suit seeks to have Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood pay back the $14 million and to void all existing contracts between it and the state.
A representative for the organization said it hadn’t yet seen the lawsuit and declined to comment to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Norton served as lieutenant governor under Republican Bill Owens until the end of Owens’ second term in 2007. She was last on the political scene in 2010, when she lost a hard-fought GOP primary to Ken Buck in the race to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.