November 1, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: AUSTIN STUKINS
SANTA BARBARA, CA — In a recent TV commercial and in his opening statement in the KEYT debate, Salud Carbajal claims he secured billions in funding to fight fires and 20 Blackhawk helicopters to assist in fighting fires. That’s quite an impressive haul for a freshman legislator. Our fact check found that both claims were heavily overstated, and that Carbajal’s involvement was similar to that of a student who doesn’t take part in a group project yet signs his name to the final report to claim credit.
DETAILS: There were 8 Blackhawk helicopters authorized in the FY2018 Defense Appropriations Act for the National Guard – nationwide. The Blackhawks sent to California were replacements for part of the California Air National Guard’s (CANG) aging fleet – they’re not additional assets, and they’re not exclusively for firefighting. In addition, though Salud claimed in a press release that he alone “led the effort,” Reps. Ken Calvert and Ed Royce had been fighting for these helicopters before Salud ever took office. When there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony in August 2018 for the helicopters, Salud was nowhere to be found.
The bottom line is, there aren’t ANY additional Blackhawk helicopters in California to help in our firefighting efforts, and Salud didn’t lead the effort to have part of the CANG’s aging fleet being replaced.
$2.4 Billion to Fight Fires?
CLAIM: “We now secured a $2.4 billion fund to help fight fires here on the Central Coast and prevent fires.”
DETAILS: The $2.4 billion fund “to help fight fires” and “prevent fires” Salud references is additional funding for the Forest Service’s fire suppression efforts and is intended to end the practice of “fire borrowing.” Currently, the Forest Service spends so much money fighting fires each year that they have to raid their fire suppression budget to pay for it. In 1995 fire suppression amounted to 16% of the Forest Service’s budget whereas in 2016 it grew to 56%. It’s hoped that with this additional funding, which is part of a bipartisan effort Sens. Wyden and Crapo have been working on since 2014 (well before Salud took office), there will be more resources to fight fires. The Forest Service will allocate this funding at their discretion, so there is no guarantee how much of it the Central Coast will see.
The bottom line is, Salud did not secure $2.4 billion. It was nothing more than vote for a bill with heavy bipartisan support that had been in the works for years before he took office, then he tried to claim the credit.
Justin Fareed is a candidate for California’s 24th Congressional District. He is President of a local small business, Pro Band Sports Industries, and a third-generation cattle rancher. Justin is a graduate of UCLA and has worked for a senior member of Congress; handling various matters pertaining to foreign relations, small business, agriculture, drafting and coordinating the movement of legislation, and building bi-partisan consensus on Capitol Hill.