Democratic nominee Eleanor Holmes Norton would stand to lose $200,000 or more in annual income if she wins next week's election for D.C. delegate because of new House rules that restrict outside fees and honoraria.
Norton's financial profile differs sharply from that of the other major nominee in the race, Republican Harry M. Singleton, whose income has dropped steadily, from $74,272 in 1985 to $38,314 last year.
Ever since leaving the Carter administration in 1981, Norton, the former chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has bolstered her income as a Georgetown University law professor with earnings from speeches and other work.
The joint income of Norton and her husband, Edward, also a lawyer, rose from $124,136 in 1982 to $317,750 last year, according to information released by the Norton campaign. The Nortons' joint income for 1989 alone was more than the total of $313,368 Singleton reported earning over five years, 1985-1989.
Eleanor Norton sits on the boards of three Fortune 500 companies that paid her a total of more than $106,000 in directors' fees in 1989. Also that year, she was paid more than $89,000 in honoraria and fees from such organizations as the Rockefeller Foundation, the United Auto Workers public review board and the Manpower Demonstration Research Corp.
Such income will be sharply curtailed next year under the new regulations.
Norton would be paid $120,800 a year as the District's nonvoting delegate. She said that if elected, she intends to quit her job at Georgetown. The university paid her $32,200 for the first four months of 1990, the equivalent of a $96,600-a-year salary.
For weeks, Norton's campaign has been dogged by controversy stemming from her family's failure to file D.C. income tax returns for the last eight years. Since the non-filings were first disclosed early last month, Norton has paid nearly $90,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties.
She said she also has paid other bills owed to the D.C. government that turned up after she hired an accountant to straighten out her finances. In addition, she made a $20,000 loan to her campaign to keep it afloat.
Norton has said that she knew nothing of the non-filings because her husband was fully in charge of nearly all the family's financial matters and she paid no attention to them.
In an interview last week, Eleanor Norton offered her role on the corporate boards as a better measure of her fitness for public office than her husband's handling of -- and her lack of involvement in -- the couple's bill-paying.
"At the same time that my husband was handling the family finances, I was handling finances that I think are far more analagous to what a congressperson would be called on to take care of," Norton said. "I'm on the board of three Fortune 500 companies. I'm on the board of the Rockefeller Foundation . . . . I have a fiduciary responsibility with respect to important institutions and entities."
For example, Norton serves on the audit committee of the Stanley Works board of directors, which oversees all financial audit affairs of the company, including tax matters.
Singleton, a lawyer who held several sub-Cabinet positions in the Reagan administration and is now a lobbyist, released his federal and District income tax returns for the last five years on Oct. 18 and called on Norton to do the same.
She has released what she says are summaries of the information in her tax returns, but declined to release the returns themselves, saying that would violate her husband's privacy.
The information in this story comes primarily from those summaries, other data she has released in connection with inquiries into her tax delinquencies and forms she filed with the House clerk that are required of all candidates.
Norton said the main reason she has pushed to increase her income is to ensure sufficient money to care for her daughter, Katherine, who has Down's syndrome.
"It is lucky that money doesn't mean a lot to me," Norton said Friday. "This is a family that lives modestly." She pointed out that running for Congress "meant taking a large cut in income."
Norton supplemented her Georgetown University salary with fees from a busy lecture schedule and director fees from three companies: Stanley Works, Metropolitan Life and Pitney Bowes.
In 1989, Norton was paid $43,288 by Metropolitan Life, $28,000 by Stanley Works and $35,000 by Pitney Bowes, according to her disclosure form.
Norton also reported that she received $9,490 from the Rockefeller Foundation; $6,720 from the United Auto Workers public review board; $3,500 from the Manpower Demonstration Research Corp.; $2,700 from National Public Radio, where she served as a commentator; and $2,700 from her husband's law firm, Boasberg and Norton.
In addition, Norton reported $89,520 in honoraria in 1989 through her agent and $86,750 in honoraria for the first five months of 1990. She declined to identify the sources of those honoraria, other than to say they come primarily from speaking appearances before universities, employer groups and nonprofit organizations.
House rules would allow Norton and her husband to retain all the investments listed on their disclosure form, which include limited partnership interests in California commercial real estate, a movie concern, an oil and gas firm and a biotechnology company.
The precise extent of the couple's holdings in the partnerships cannot be calculated from the disclosure form, but the total investment value as of May 15 is between $245,008 and $660,000.
Her largest investment is an interest in the Oakter Associates Limited Partnership, which she described as "commercial real estate, Oakland, CA." The partnership, which is managed by a New York investment company, declined a request to provide a description of its holdings. Norton's House disclosure form put the worth of her interest in the partnership at between $50,001 and $100,000.
Oakter Associates and another limited partnership in which the Nortons invested, Intergen Investors, are managed by Integrated Resources Inc., a mammoth investment firm that filed for bankruptcy last year after posting major losses.
Norton said she would be able to manage the pay cut if elected, but indicated that the last several months have taken a heavy toll on her family's finances.
"I was prepared, given the assets that we've saved, to take the cut in income in order to enter the Congress," Norton said. "I wasn't prepared for a $16,000 tax indebtedness to become $88,000. That, of course, I didn't take into account, and that has made our finances somewhat more difficult."