At a Statehouse press conference Tuesday morning Democratic State Auditor Thomas M. Salmon — the son of a former Democratic governor — will announce he is leaving his party to become a Republican.
That's according to a confidential letter sent by Salmon to key supporters, and obtained by Seven Days. Salmon issued the letter on Saturday.
"I am changing my political affiliation to align myself with the party closest to my core beliefs," wrote Salmon. "It is my belief that the VT Republican party is closest to accepting the realities of our times; and is therefore the party best equipped to manage the very real and troubling economic and social conditions which confront us not only today, but in the coming decade."
Salmon said he has been warning fellow Democrats about the need to do more to combat the coming fiscal crisis, only to be rebuffed.
"As many of you know, in the face of the enormous fiscal crisis we face, I have sounded the alarm for new thinking, responsible budgeting, meaningful long-term planning and painful prioritization," said Salmon. "When I returned home from Iraq, I witnessed first-hand a budget process rife with deficiencies and dysfunction. There was little balance in the debate."
On Friday, Salmon said he was consulting with friends and colleagues as he sought to make a decision. The state GOP said they will welcome Salmon with open arms. He becomes the highest-profile defector among Democrats in a number of years.
His father, Thomas P. Salmon, was governor from 1973 to 1977.
Salmon won his post in 2006 after a statewide recount gave him the victory over incumbent Republican Randy Brock. In 2008, he faced Progressive Martha Abbott, and won the endorsement of both Democrats and Republicans.
It had been rumored that if Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie opted not to run for governor, that Salmon could step in as a GOP candidate.
Salmon's press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Statehouse.
Here is the full text of Salmon's letter to supporters:
It is an honor to serve as Auditor for the State of Vermont. In 2006, I was elected as a Democrat. In 2008, I was re-elected on the Democratic/Republican ticket. 2010 will be different.
I am changing my political affiliation to align myself with the party closest to my core beliefs. It is my belief that the VT Republican party is closest to accepting the realities of our times; and is therefore the party best equipped to manage the very real and troubling economic and social conditions which confront us not only today, but in the coming decade.
As many of you know, in the face of the enormous fiscal crisis we face, I have sounded the alarm for new thinking, responsible budgeting, meaningful long-term planning and painful prioritization.
When I returned home from Iraq, I witnessed first-hand a budget process rife with deficiencies and dysfunction. There was little balance in the debate.
As a Certified Public Accountant, I recently completed my required Ethics course for re-licensing. The Professional Code of Conduct demands that I act with integrity, objectivity and independence. As Auditor, I have preached that Vermont is on an unsustainable track we cannot tax ourselves out of.
I believe the majority of Vermonters do not want to see tax increases as a consequence of poor planning. However, without major restructuring of human services, corrections management and public education (which together account for some 75% of our expenditures) we are going to find that situation unavoidable. Removing even greater sums of capital out of our job-creating private sector and the budgets of Vermont families will only hasten the ill effects of the current crisis.
We all watch a healthcare reform movement focused on increased access rather than A) addressing the root causes of the problem B) fixing Medicaid and Medicare or C) promoting incentives and personal responsibility. The big losers are our young people, the vulnerable elderly population and the viability of Vermont's 1778 motto of "Freedom and Unity."
I am a believer in the America of hard work and "get oneself upstream" with a combination of personal commitment and external support.
I'm not a believer that all of our future tax dollars should go to interest on debt or "education, medication and incarceration." In the current form of these primarily government-controlled expenditures, this is a path leading to a dangerous imbalance of our "Freedom and Unity." Economic freedom is an essential component in achieving and maintaining political freedom. Over the more than 200 years of our nation's founding, too many of our fine soldiers have died for the protection of these freedoms.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you with full commitment and transparency. I promise to do my best to perform the job Vermonters have elected me to do.
Thomas M. Salmon CPA
Vermont State Auditor
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