Matt Salmon the Stimulus Lobbyist
Stimulus Funds and Matt Salmon Fact Check
Watch Michele Kern, former Mayor of El Mirage; explain why Matt Salmon lobbied for stimulus dollars:
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City of El Mirage Lobbying ContractIn September of 2009, the City of El Mirage signed a new lobbying contract with Policy Impact Communications (PIC). In the contract they agreed to pay PIC a monthly fee of $12,500, or $150,000 for the duration of one year. Matt Salmon signed the contract as the President of Policy Impact Communications.
When El Mirage first hired Policy Impact Communications, Matt Salmon was the sole lobbyist listed. That changed in Q4 of 2009. So much for Matt's claims that every partner is listed on every disclosure statement.
The issue listed in the disclosure forms was "noise issues associated with F-22". What exactly does lobbying on "noise issues associated with F-22" entail? The best explanation comes straight from Scott Chesney, Economic Development Director for the City of El Mirage. The following is an email communication between Scott and Matt Salmon detailing what the City of El Mirage expected to accomplish:
Public ReactionThe agreement between PIC and the City of El Mirage was reported in the Phoenix Business Journal on October 29, 2009. The article reported "The city of El Mirage has hired a lobbying firm headed by former Mesa Congressman Matt Salmon to help with efforts related to Luke Air Force Base and the possibility of F-35 training coming to the Glendale base…El Mirage officials have expressed concerns that the F-35 fighter jet will be louder than the existing F-16 housed at Luke."
Another article published on Allbusiness.com cut straight to the heart of the reasons behind El Mirage's lobbying contract with PIC.
"El Mirage's immediate big push is to share its woes about how the military base has dampened its economic development. And to get something for it."
This same article criticized Matt Salmon for taking on El Mirage as a client, knowing that their main goal was to push back against Luke Air Force Base and the F-35.
"Interesting that Salmon, once a political powerhouse in Arizona, is taking on as a client El Mirage, a city that has been sharply criticized by other Valley leaders, who believe that raising concern about Luke is akin to trying to destroy the base."
The article also noted that his willingness to lobby on this issue stood in sharp contrast to his previous comments about Luke Air Force Base.
"In 2002, when Salmon was running for governor, he told The Republic: "We need to have a governor who's going to use the bully pulpit, going to use the office of the governor to make sure that we do everything that we can to protect Luke Air Force Base."
Matt Salmon wasn't the only person drawing criticism for taking on Luke Air Force Base and the F-35. The city council members who decided to hire PIC began to see significant resistance to their position. The Arizona Republic reported that "The outgoing City Council drew criticism last year when it asked for $400 million in federal compensation to offset perceived harm from restrictions limiting growth around the Glendale base. Members also complained that noise from the jets would hurt property values. The base is a $2 billion-a-year economic engine in Arizona and the Air Force's preferred site for F-35 training."
Increasing public disapproval over the City Council's position on Luke Air Force Base eventually led to a sweep by Pro Luke candidates in the 2010 elections, taking 5 out of 5 open spots. An article on lukeforward.com noted that "In 2009 and 2010, a large group of El Mirage residents became increasingly alarmed at the City's stance on Luke and the subsequent negative perception of their community. They formed an activist group known as the People of El Mirage (POEM) to demonstrate strong support for the base and its personnel, many of whom reside in El Mirage. Five members of that group went on to run for city council and ended up taking over all five of the seats up for election. "We believed strongly the position the Council was taking was not reflective of how our community truly felt," said newly-elected Mayor Lana Mook. "The vast majority of us supported Luke AFB and didn't understand why this wasn't being reflected in the public."
Matt Salmon's lobbying contract with El Mirage ended August 31, 2010, two months before the majority of the town's leadership was thrown out of office for supporting the very same issues on which he lobbied.