In this week's "Fair Game," State Auditor Tom Salmon demonstrated his way with words. I had queried him about an email sent from his office, welcoming Sen. Ed Flanagan into the auditor's race.
Using state computers for political business is not allowed, as is spelled out in the state's personnel manual and other administrative bulletins.
Salmon's response to my email?
I'm wasting more state time on your political bullshit
Clever. Several more well-placed syllables would have netted Salmon a nice little Haiku.
After receiving this email on Monday, I responded to Salmon with this email:
I asked the same question of Katie Manaras back in April 2008 when she sent a political note for Peter Shumlin from his state email account congratulating House Speaker Gaye Symington's entrance into the governor's race, and of Dennise Casey later that year after she left the Douglas administration and was a campaign worker and was using her state-issued ID badge to get to the fifth floor after hours.
But, thanks for the frank response.
He then responded with an even longer response, in which he calls me "son," suggests I'm an "unadulterated hypocrite" and that I "find out what the hell you were put on earth for."
My editors and I decided we should post this email exchange in its entirety. Here is what he wrote in response to my reply:
Look son, you need to get very clear on something. You and I once had a personal relationship that was forming with a good batch of sincerity. It was ruined by the way you reported the handling of my financial troubles and mischaracterizations (being dragged into court, etc) that never occurred, and many many years of struggle that you didn’t think were germane that may have balanced the story. So what, right?
I believe that you love Vermont and you love your family, and I wish you the best. However, the way you have been acting toward our office with disregard for the work that we do, more inclined to ask political or personal questions, is unacceptable. So that is where the Fuck off derives from.
I am tempted to run a press release about Vermont’s hidden waste: Reporter requests that have no basis for productive news. Or would that be considered campaigning? You tied our time up today on questions about the survey- what day? How are you using that? For who? (When it starts with Dear Legislator?) You’ve riddled my deputy with extensive questions about our budget trying to catch me in a lie from my Nov 20 speech? You have asked about the number 5 license plate which is probably hanging in Randy’s barn? (I never exercised my option for that) and the report could go on.
So, for you to tie up our state time today, then jump on the news release about issues affecting the state’s accountability office in a blurb that was 5 minute cut- paste-send exercise, is the work of an unadulterated hypocrite. You get to prance around and be a “political columnist” but are expected to taken as a serious journalist? You get to ask questions of our office that are politically motivated- or by your personal agenda- and we are expected to answer them with a straight face?
You may be looking to get me to help you sell papers. It’s too bad you have pissed on all the capital you had with me, for both of us. Why? Because it’s too bad you and I do not collaborate on getting productive word to citizens (and that would make public service or reporting more noble professions). I’m serving Vermont to improve the lives of others. Why do you do what you do?
I hope you figure what the hell you were put on earth for………….cause this ain’t it. You are better than this, son.
To be clear, I didn't "riddle" his deputy with questions. From April 12 through Monday, I sent Deputy Auditor Joe Juhasz eight emails. Six were related to the auditor's budget and two asked about a legislative survey Salmon distributed to lawmakers.
The reason I sent eight emails related to the auditor's budget is due to the fact that Juhasz never fully responded to my requests about the auditor's budget. Actually, it took four attempts to get Juhasz to provide the detail that was originally requested. I had asked not just how much the office paid out in salaries for FY 2009, 2010 and 2011, but also which funds were used to cover those costs.
The original request was made April 12, but it wasn't until April 28 that I received the information. Once I saw the financial details, I wanted to ask a follow-up question. After all, that's my job.