Matt Salmon’s Union Connections

By Jean Valjean

Reposted from Western Free Press.

Matt Salmon seems to be playing both sides of the political fence. Salmon apparently is a Phoenix union supporter but a self-described “conservative” in Arizona’s East Valley.

Matt Salmon’s website home page welcomes you with this quote:

“Your financial support will help ensure my message of smaller government, fiscal responsibility and less taxes reaches every voter.” – Matt Salmon

Furthermore, Salmon markets himself as a “conservative.”

If this is true, why is Salmon, a supposed stalwart of conservatism, endorsing liberal union activist Claude Mattox for Mayor of Phoenix?

Matt Salmon’s firm, Upstream Consulting, represents government unions, specifically public employee unions in Arizona. These unions endorse Claude Mattox for Mayor of Phoenix. Salmon then endorses Claude Mattox. In turn, Salmon receives money from the unions. In addition, Salmon gets more ammunition against his primary opponents, specifically Kirk Adams.

Why? One reason is the unions hate Kirk Adams for spearheading pension reform in Arizona. Adams’ pension reform was the most ambitious in the country, targeting the public safety unions that Salmon represents. In fact, Arizona is on the union’s target list of states to “fight back” against.

This provides a unique solution for the unions and Matt Salmon. Salmon gets to capitalize on privately raising money from the unions, coordinating attacks on Salmon’s more anti-union primary opponents, while claiming he has nothing to do with the unions. The unions also get a more “friendly” candidate by eliminating old enemies.

While Kirk Adams was trying to pass pension reform and getting government sector spending in control with universities and unions, Matt Salmon was lobbying against these things. During Salmon’s lobbying tenure, he picked battles with the Goldwater Institute over corporate welfare, protected government public safety unions, and fought to protect ASU’s government gravy train.

Matt Salmon is receiving money from other union players. The list includes ex-union boss Billy Shields and union spokesman David Leibowitz.

Once again, why is Salmon endorsing union candidates and receiving union money? Why is Salmon suggesting he is a symbol of “smaller government” when there is no bigger symbol of “Big Government” than public-employee unions and their political candidates? Does Salmon really believe in these union backed candidates and issues or is it just “politics?” Do we want to reward politicians who take on political risks or those who take advantage of them?

This is a big issue that deserves more transparency and answers.


  1. What about Salmons plan to make his campaign manager into the next Glen Hamer? Will Salmon keep developing the farm team that staffs the AZ Chamber and shamelessly lobbys for illegals? He brings in a guy from Hawaii or New Mexico or wherever that press guy/ manager is from and plants another Rino into the AZ Gop?

    What about Salmons High Ground / Scott Smith connection? Is Scott Smith supporting this action by the Us conference of mayors? Picture on front page of Trib was Smith standing with his Chairman, Antonio viva la raza villagaigosa from Los Angeles, shilling for more federal spending.

    And will he bring that agenda to the Matt Salmon campaign? Maybe he can get his buddy Antonio Villagraigoso to come and help campaign for Salmon, that Viva La Raza chant will be a big surprise to Arpaio. And then they can expand that federal spending project of the Light Rail into Mesa – Salmons new district?

  2. Remember this my friends. When Matt ran for governor he was far ahead in the polls and the state was ripe for a conservative candidate. He squandered all that political capital and paved the way for 2 terms – not one, 2 terms of Janet Napolitano. He also planted Glen Hamer in the AZ State GOP directors chair before moving him to the Chamber of Commerce to lobby for hiring illegals.
    Now that he has another shot at congress, we should remember all that he didnt do. Part of the spending spree in federal govt started when Matt was there, and although he will strenously proclaim that he was against spending, it sure did happen anyway.
    Do we really want more of Matt Salmon?

  3. MesaConservative21 says

    I don’t think Matt Salmon is a bad man. I just want someone more conservative and fresh. That’s undoubtably Kirk Adams.

    I guess on some level, I know politics requires alliances and strange bedfellows. Still, Salmon should not of taken these union clients and endorsed their candidates. He might not believe it and it might be political, but all I can do is judge those actions and responsd accordingly, which is to not vote for him.

  4. Oberserve says

    It’s because Salmon IS NOT A CONSERVATIVE.

    Seriously, what politicians SAY is irrelevant.

    The only thing that matters is what they DO.

    Did you not learn that from McCain?

  5. SomeonePinchMe! says

    Does anyone believe that Matt Salmon, being a fat-cat lobbyist for the past 10 years, won’t owe any favors to his friends in Washington if he ever were to get re-elected?

  6. Matt has never worked for High Ground. Oops, I got the firms confused, is High Ground the fat-cat lobbyist firm that runs the Govs office and then gets paid by private firms to talk to the Gov about their projects? Like that mine in Florence? Kinda Cozy.
    I really hope we can get that same kind of insider trading going when Matt is the Congressman. I just wonder how they will split the profits. Oops, that would be unethical because there would be some kind of confilct, huh?
    Oh well, I guess it isnt a conflict to whisper in the Govs ear, run her campaign and then charge people for relaying private company messages to her, so it should be ok for the same arrangement for Salmon.

    • SomeonePinchMe! says

      Bob, High Ground is always in it for themselves and making money. You’re exactly right how they use their control over the Governor to gain lobbying contracts. Now, they’re after a Congressman to yank in Federal lobbying contracts. My hope is that the Tea Party will not send this phony to Washington!

  7. Alan Soelberg says

    The issue I take with all of this is that Matt Salmon thinks we are so dense that he can pitch his record as Congressman from almost 20 years ago while hoping that we will completely ignore what he has been knee deep in for the last 10 years. He wants the district to believe that he can “hit the ground” running because he has “been there before.”

    I don’t want someone representing me that has “been there before,” someone who describes themselves as a “seasoned Washington government relations professional” (Salmon’s words attempting to sugar coat the fact that he is a lobbyist, a hired mercenary to represent people looking for ever-bigger government handouts). Salmon’s endorsement of Mattox, coupled with the financial backing of the likes of Shields and Leibowitz, goes to show how deep in “it” Salmon really is. Please, someone from the Salmon camp, walk me through how this is okay?

    Who is this guy? Fiscal conservative, or lobbyist sellout? No respect for Sheriff Joe, or hails him as national hero? Friend of the taxpayer, or the representation we need to bring more pet projects to AZ? I am so confused… And apparently, so is Salmon. Confused, or pandering.

    • Alan should you be providing disclosures that you are working for the Adams camp?

      • Alan Soelberg says

        @AZMesan, not sure I understand your question. I am not paid by the Adams’ camp. He couldn’t afford my billable rate! But I certainly support Kirk when and where I am able. I know him well enough to know that he is the same guy in front of any person, regardless the political points to be scored. I don’t agree with everything he has done, but his consistent, principled, conservative approach sure is refreshing, especially when juxtaposed against someone pandering as hard as Salmon.

        Win or lose, Kirk Adams is going to be the same guy today as he will be after the primaries in 2012. The same can’t be said about Salmon. Only thing consistent thus far with Salmon is his display of political expediency.

        Would love to chat with you more about why I support Kirk if you would like. Come on out from behind your screen name, I will buy lunch.

  8. This post is a Joke.
    I wonder if Jean Valjean will write about all the donors that gave to Adams who are also trying to push Russell out of the Senate???? (Coons, Farnsworth, Udall, Ahlstrom…)
    “Adams’ pension reform was the most ambitious in the country”. Really??? I wonder what Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans in Wisconsin think about that? Adams “pension reform” is the biggest strawhorse in this election cycle. If you really understood the issue, you would know that Arizona’s public unions are among the weakest in the country.
    And while I’m on the subject I’m becoming more and more irritated about Adams boasting about his accomplishments as Speaker. A balance budget and a hundred day legislative sessions. These are things that Speakers such as Turley, Sossman, and Killian did routinely. A Speaker bragging about a 100 days session and a balance budget is like Justin Upton doing the moon walk to first base after hitting a single to left field.
    Lastly, is the hate for Highground really genuine, or is that they continually will elections (Brewer, Smith, Cubs, Prop 100, Waveyard, Salmon…)

  9. Alan Soelberg says

    @LD18, any input concerning Salmon’s endorsement of Mattox over Wright or Neely? Funny you would attempt to change the subject rather than addressing yet another of Salmon’s inconsistencies.

    While you are on the subject, funny that you think that Adams’ pension reform is a straw-horse. Neither Shields nor Leibowitz (both union boys, both contributed to the Salmon campaign) thought so.

    Lastly, do you hide behind the @LD18 screen name because you are paid by Highground? Just wondering…

  10. @LD 18 Theres no hate for HighGround, just concern that a lobbying firm gets someone elected and then makes lots of money directly from that connection. Shortly after Gov Brewer took office there was criticism of her tax increase plans. The response to that criticism was an Op Ed by Chuck Coughlin on HighGround letterhead, looked pretty much like the official response too.
    There is really no difference between the arrangement in Phx where Mayor Phil Gordon “suggests” that private companies contact Billy Shields if they want to do business with the City and –
    Gov Brewer “suggests” that private companies contact Chuck Coughlin/ HighGround if they want to do business with the State.
    Corruption is corruption. It sure looks like Matt Salmon is ok with all that.

  11. Wish I could be a contract lobbyist too! says

    HighGround = Hired mercenaries willing to do dirty deeds for cash upfront and kickbacks later

    Matt Salmon = Hired mercenary who has done dirty deeds for cash upfront and kickbacks later

    Sounds like a winning combination to me!

    No principles. Only the pursuit of power.

    Mayor Smith embodies this, too.

    There’s an unholy cabal in AZ and HighGround is at the heart of it, appropriating and abusing the good name of Conservatism as it and its cronies line their pockets with – and grow fat on – taxpayer money.

  12. Gilbert voter says

    This post and almost all the comments were written by CQ, a paid political consultant for one of Salmon’s opponents, Chuck Gray. Look at the writing style. Yawn. Can we have some real arguments discrediting Salmon please, instead of this mamby-pamby try to tarnish someone with innuendos?

  13. Fuel for the Fire says

    Let’s not forget that the “conservative” Salmon endorsed Kris Mayes, Napolitano’s former press flack, for Corp Commission. Remember how dirty Mayes’ appointment to the commission was? Nappy was required to appoint a Republican, so, Mayes switched parties so Nappy could appoint a Democrat disguised as a “Republican”. Salmon was representing solar interests in front of the Commission and wanted to curry favor with a sitting commissioner who he thought would win election, so, he endorsed the press flack of his gubernatorial election nemesis, Napolitano.

    How soon Salmon sold out! If he sells out for his solar clients, what else is Salmon going to sell out on if he gets a seat in Congress again? He shows no consistency and therefore cannot be trusted. Even on the campaign trail in 2002, he started to show a lack of consistent conservative principles when he promised a largely Hispanic crowd that he was going to save them from payday lenders. He says he’s a conservative, but endorses liberals, works for liberals and makes liberal promises. He’ll tell you one thing to your face, but do something different in office. That’s a stereotypical politician for you. Haven’t we had enough of that? If you vote for Salmon, you deserve the consequences.

    @”Gilbert voter” and you expect us to believe you’re not from High Ground?

  14. @ Gilbert Voter ( i mean Ryan) I dont know if CQ is doing something on my turf, but he should stand back and learn how to show people that like to mess with people what messin with people is all about. I like the Samuel Jackson version of that better, but this is a family friendly blog.
    And I am offended that you use the term “mamby pamby”, cause in Boston Legal the term was ” namby pamby”, but you were close.
    There are many, many reasons why Matt Salmon should not be Congressman. Only some of those reasons have been listed on this thread. The fact that you are scared tells us a lot about how confident you are about Salmons chances. Go back to the den of darkness on 4th Ave and refigure how many robo calls and mailers it will take to get over on the voters in CD 6.

  15. MesaConservative21 says

    Who is High Ground and what is their connection to Matt Salmon?

  16. This post and its attached comments would be alot more interesting to me if it wasn’t so mired in hypocrital crap.
     You want too talk about contract lobbyist connections? Take some time to read through Kirk Adams finances. It reads like a Arizona contract lobbyist phone book.
    I find these post to be utterly disingenuous, and completely uncreditable.  

    • Tiny Elvis says

      Except… the original post (and I haven’t re-read the whole thing but I just re-read the first couple of sentences) doesn’t say “lobbying is bad.” Or that Salmon is bad because he is a contract lobbyist. Special interest isn’t necessarily a bad word.

      Personally, I have no problems with lobbyists. I don’t think they all behave like Jack Abramoff (which coincidentally, Matt was a part of Greenberg Traurig at one point, right? Isn’t that the same lobbying / law firm that Jack Abramoff lobbied for?) Now, to say Matt Salmon has connections to Jack Abramoff — that would be a stretch. Matt was a part of a national lobbying / law firm with offices all over the country with different staff members having different clients. He had no say on the clients brought into the firm.

      However, with Upstream, it was HIS firm. (Upstream, Salmon swimming, get it?) To say Matt didn’t profit from that contract, or to imply he had no control over the types of clients that came into the firm, that is really the heart of the issue, no?

      The post calls into question Salmon’s ties to the unions. The question at hand is whether that is a fair and accurate assertion, or whether it’s completely off-base.

      If we want to move the dialogue to a discussion about lobbying in general, fine, let’s have that discussion. Then, I think your point RE: Kirk is valid. (I haven’t seen Kirk’s FEC report, but I will take your claim at face value and accept it’s true).

      But your above comment is subterfuge and smoke to divert the debate at hand: is Matt Salmon courting union support and union money and did he benefit financially from representing the largest public sector union in the state?

      The answer, seems to be yes. That doesn’t make him a bad person or an unworthy candidate, but this is a major campaign in a very conservative district, and so I think it is a relevant issue.

      Am I missing something?

      For the record, I don’t live in the district, so I don’t really have a strong opinion for either candidate (or Chuck Gray for that matter) — but, I am enjoying watching this race finally heat up. Pass the popcorn.

  17. MesaConservative21 says

    Not really, Looks like the Arizona Capital Times noticed:

    “A local political blog yesterday tried to paint Salmon as a supporter of Phoenix labor unions, but in doing so strained the bounds of credibility, his campaign said today. In the piece by the Western Free Press blog, Salmon is linked to unspecified public employee unions through his lobbying firm, his endorsement of “liberal union activist” Claude Mattox in the Phoenix mayoral race and $1,500 in campaign contributions he received from David Leibowitz and Billy Shields. “Salmon gets to capitalize on privately raising money from the unions, coordinating attacks on Salmon’s more anti-union primary opponents, while claiming he has nothing to do with the unions. The unions also get a more ‘friendly’ candidate by eliminating old enemies,” wrote the author, who goes by the pen name Jean Valjean, noting that the unions likely hate Adams more because of the pension reform legislation he spearheaded this year. But Salmon’s campaign spokesman Adam Deguire told our reporter today it is laughable to assert that Salmon is a friend to unions, given that his highest ranking from the AFL-CIO during his first stint in Congress was two percent. “He’s not beloved by the unions by any stretch,” Deguire said, adding the blog piece “is kind of a stretch.” He told our reporter that Salmon has never represented any unions, but that isn’t completely accurate. While Salmon himself has never been listed as a lobbyist for a union, his firm, Upstream Consulting, has counted the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona among its clients. Mike Haener, one of the firm’s lobbyists, began representing the union in January. In June, Haener was removed as a lobbyist for PFFAZ and Upstream became the official lobbyist – until last week, when Upstream was taken off the union’s lobbying rolls and Haener was again listed as its lobbyist. One source with knowledge of the situation, but who couldn’t speak about it on the record, said Haener is the only person at Upstream who has ever worked on issues for PFFAZ and that the Aug. 3 change to the lobbying records was made to reflect that. Deguire said that Upstream’s employees “work in silos” and are paid in relation to the contracts they bring to the firm. While the union may formally pay Upstream, Haener is the only one who would be compensated for that work. However, he acknowledged that the firm, which is owned by Salmon and John Haddow, likely does keep a portion of any fees charged to clients before paying its employees.”

    Note the last line. I would be interested to see your sources about Adams. Also, who is high ground, I am just a spectator and not an insider, like a lot of the commenters seem to be? it looks like the author of the post, although using hyperbole, is right about Salmon’s union connections.

  18. @ MesaConservative21
    Bill Clinton did not inhale and he never had sex with that woman.
    Matt Salmon never made money or developed relationships with powerful unions.
    HIght Ground is the spot where you hide with your guns and shoot down on unsuspecting enemies.

  19. MesaConservative21 says
  20. MesaConservative21 says


  1. […] credentials are crumbling under the weight of Salmon’s own record. First, Salmon was caught endorsing union candidates and seeking union money and now Salmon is fighting for Washington Earmarks and […]

  2. […] is also Matt Salmon’s fundraiser. As we reported earlier this month, Matt Salmon also has endorsed union candidate Claude Mattox for Mayor of Phoenix.  Salmon’s lobbying firm also represents Phoenix union clients.  Salmon also represents […]

  3. […] the president of Summit, is also Matt Salmon’s fundraiser. As we reported earlier this month, Matt Salmon also has endorsed union candidate Claude Mattox for Mayor of Phoenix.  Salmon’s lobbying firm also represents Phoenix union clients.  Salmon also represents […]

  4. […] has recently been shown that Salmon endorses liberal / left-leaning union candidates and has collected union contributions.  Now, Salmon appears to be advocating for earmarks and pork-barrel spending?  Did I wake up in […]

  5. […] spearheading the passage of a major reform of the state pension system. Unions targeted Adams as enemy number one because Adams bill significantly modified the state’s pension system, creating long-term cost […]

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