Home>Party Business>Is Green Party Senate Hopeful Mike Norton a Straw Candidate?

Is Green Party Senate Hopeful Mike Norton a Straw Candidate?

All ten donors have strong ties to Dems and are based far from AZ

By Ken Kurson, April 24, 2024 2:01 pm

Mike Norton, man of mystery. (Photo: mikenortonforaz.com)

Last week, Arizona Globe reported on some shenanigans taking place in the Green Party race for US Senate. Powerful Democrat law firm led by Mark Elias filed suit to disqualify one green party candidate, Arturo Hernandez. At the same time, the Green Party itself revealed that the only other Green Party candidate Mike Norton looked more and more like a phony candidacy.

In a comprehensive and well-documented thread, the Green Party revealed that “Norton isn’t even a registered AZGP member at all.” The thread further revealed that just before the closing of the quarter, Norton received max-out donations from five prominent Democrats, an additional thousand-dollar donation from a different Democrat, plus large donations from four Political Action Committees that have previously supported only Democrats.

The Green Party thread reminds readers that “Anybody who knows anything about the #GreenParty knows that we DO NOT EVER accept contributions from super-PACs.”

There’s recent Arizona history of tampering with the Green Party in a way that benefits Democrats. In 2018, Green Party candidate Angela Green dropped out of the race at the last moment and endorsed Kirsten Sinema, who ended up defeating Republican Martha McSally in a tight race. Given that history, the Green Party naturally wondered if Norton‘s candidacy was aimed at boosting a faulty candidate so that at the last minute, perhaps he could withdraw and endorse Ruben Gallego, who is currently polling a few points behind presumed Republican nominee Kari Lake in what looks to be a tight race.

Now, Arizona Globe has uncovered additional evidence that only makes the Norton donations even more suspicious.

First of all, those 10 donations that the Green Party thread revealed turn out to be the only donations to Norton’s campaign that have been reported thus far.

In addition to uninterrupted records of supporting only Democrats (with one exception, I could find him – David Steinglass donated to Liz Cheney, a Republican, but certainly a special case) all 10 of these donors share something else in common. None is from Arizona.

That’s right. Not one of the six individuals or four PACs that suddenly took an interest in the Green Party nomination is based in Arizona.

So you’ve got a candidacy that’s raised $37,501 and reports expenditures totaling $509.63. There are only has 10 donations surpassing the $200 reporting threshold. All 10 of them come from individuals and organizations that previously have supported only Democrats, and all of them are from out of state. That is fishy as hell. When you add that fact pattern to the news the Globe broke about Democratic powerhouse Marc Elias trying to disqualify Arturo Hernandez, it becomes quite obvious that the Democrats have a strong interest in meddling in another party’s internal politics.

Cody Hannah, the AZGP’s elected Co-Chairperson, as well as Chairperson of the Green Party of Maricopa County (and 2024 candidate for AZ State House of Representatives in LD13) told Arizona Globe, “It feels like we’re shouting into the void sometimes when things like this happen to us Greens and the media ignores it.”

Here are the six individual donors who donated to Mike Norton:

Mike Smith has been a prolific donor to Democratic candidates. Does his sudden $3300 to Green Party candidate Norton represent a change of heart? (Photo: Cornerstone Public Affairs)

Mike Smith, who sent Norton $3300, is a member of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and a former member of the Democratic National Committee’s prestigious Credentials Committee.

Paul Bernon, who also sent Norton $3300, Co-Chairs the Emily’s List Creative Council, and sits on the DNC’s Finance Committee.

Devin Rhinerson is a former senior policy advisor to the late Diane Feinstein (D-Calif). Rhinerson gave the maximum $3300 to Norton’s Campaign.

David Steinglass has contributed hundreds of thousands to Democratic causes, including the DCCC, DSCC, House Majority PAC, Emily’s List and to Joe Biden. He gave the maximum $3300, as did his wife Elizabeth E. Steinglass. Steinglass made his fortune in private equity as a co-founder at Northlane Capital Partners, but recently left that role so he could “dedicate myself full-time to advancing the rights of transgender people.”

Finally, there’s a $1000 donation from Timothy Webster, a law professor at Western New England University.

Arizona Globe reached out to all six of the individual donors. None of them got back to us. Not even Bernon, who happens to be the life partner of The Apprentice runner-up and podcaster Bethenny Frankel as well as a successful film producer, twin roles one would not associate with a reluctance to chat with media.

The Globe even reached out to Mrs. Steinglass via her personal website, where she publishes her not bad poetry.

The Globe also reached out to Mike Norton for comment, and despite third-party candidates usually being desperate for a coverage anywhere, we have not heard back. This story will be updated if he chooses to comment.

Elizabeth Steinglass, a fixture of DC Democratic politics, has given generously to a far-away candidate in a different party. (Photo: elizabethsteinglass.com)

Those experienced in the boring work of reading FEC documents will notice some other anomalies about this campaign. For one thing, Mike Norton lists as the treasurer for his committee … Mike Norton. It’s highly unusual for someone to serve as his own treasurer for a statewide race. He also lists his email address on the official forms a personal Gmail address rather than a campaign address, another rarity for any election bigger than municipal office. And his campaign website includes virtually no information — no policy positions or family photos or the usual junk that every candidacy features.

The Globe has yet to uncover any definitive proof of wrongdoing. Maybe six habitual donors to Democrats from places like Washington DC and Boston suddenly decided they really care who wins the Green Party nomination in Arizona.

But for all the whining and preaching and scolding we have heard over the last four years from Democrats allegedly outraged by “election interference,” this apparently coordinated effort to support one candidate and disqualify another in a party to which these donors don’t even belong is unusual to say the least.

With Democratic power lawyer Marc Elias suing to disqualify one Green Party candidate and prominent Democrats funding a second, it’s possible that both Hernandez and Norton aren’t sincere Green Party candidates. The Democrats seem to be saying “Hey, fake Green Candidate Hernandez, get off the ballot so fake Green Candidate Norton can have the ballot to himself.” It’ll be interesting to see whether the state officials so concerned about ballot shenanigans — Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, perhaps?— will take a look at these anomalies.

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Ken Kurson
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