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March 13, 2013

Salmon Takes, Then Leaves Job with Massachusetts Department of Transportation

SalmonEver wonder what happened to former state auditor Tom Salmon?

After quietly leaving office in January, the formerly up-and-coming Democrat-turned-Republican evidently took a position with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. But after just one month on the job, the State House News Service reported Wednesday, Salmon left to pursue another gig with the federal government.

That's leaving some Bay Staters none too pleased.

"Despite making a commitment to stay on, he has taken that position and moved on," Massachusetts Inspector General Glenn Cunha said Wednesday at a meeting of the Inspector General's Council, according to SHNS. (Sorry, the story's not available online.)

Jack Meyers, a spokesman for the inspector general's office, confirmed to Seven Days Salmon's brief tenure as director of the special audit unit in the Department of Transportation.

"He started work here earlier this calendar year and then after about a month he said he was going to leave the post," Meyers said. "My understanding is that he was pursuing another job and also that he had some personal reasons to go back to Vermont."

Meyers said the IG's office was surprised Salmon so quickly departed what was supposed to be a six-year appointment.

"You know, there had been a pretty involved search process to select the candidate," Meyers said. "There was an expectation that he'd be here for a while."

Salmon was the first person to fill the position, which was created in 2009, Meyers said. He was replaced Wednesday by a private-sector consultant who had been a runner-up for the post when Salmon applied for it.

During his six years as Vermont state auditor, Salmon earned a reputation for zigging and zagging between various political ambitions.

Not long after former Republican governor Jim Douglas announced he would not seek reelection, Salmon announced in September 2009 that he was leaving the Democratic Party to become a Republican. That prompted many political observers to speculate that Salmon, whose father was a popular Democratic governor, might seek the office himself.

A month into his third term as state auditor, Salmon announced in February 2011 that he would not seek reelection. Two months later, he formed an exploratory committee to challenge independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. That September, he announced he was skipping the senate race and would, in fact, run for reelection to the auditor post — only to back out again in May 2012.

At that time, Salmon told Seven Days' Andy Bromage he had a "half dozen potential jobs that (he) could see (himself) going to."

"I've never chosen a job for a salary but now I'm in a position where I have a skill set that probably can earn between $160,000 and $220,000 reasonably," Salmon said at the time. "And that would prevent our family from strangling under debt."

Meyers said he did not know Salmon's salary at the department of transportation, but he said Salmon's successor would earn $108,000.

Salmon did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment.

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