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Matt Moseley is sitting in his office, a cool structure at the back of his home that at one time might have been a tiny carriage house or garage, but has since evolved into a funky shack full of psychedelic posters advertising concerts and other debris of a life full of diverse interests and activities. There’s snow outside, but inside it’s warm and cozy and Moseley is getting up to speed, laughing and gesturing and then, suddenly, grabbing a bullwhip and snapping it with a loud crack. Moseley laughs, “my son got me this,” he exclaims and then cracks the whip again twice in quick succession, the loud snap a fitting punctuation to his energy. Moseley cackles and you get the sense that he may have picked up a trick or two from his old friend Hunter S. Thompson, who features in Moseley’s first book, Dear Dr. Thompson: Felony Murder, Hunter S. Thompson and the Last Gonzo Campaign.
Moseley came to Colorado to ski Telluride and ended up in Boulder as a graduate student at the University of Colorado, where he obtained a master’s degree in public policy. One half of a Lower Chautauqua power duo (his wife, Kristen, was just named as one of Denver’s best water attorneys by 5280 Magazine), he’s held a series of impressive public relations positions including the communications director at the Colorado State Capitol for the Senate Democrats under President Joan Fitz- Gerald, acting as a press officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, an assistant press secretary for the White House for the G7 Summit in Denver in 1998, and the national field director at Rock the Vote in Los Angeles in 1997. Currently he’s a senior associate at Denver public affairs firm GBSM and the principal of InterMountain Public Affairs.
It’s in this latter role that Moseley is shaping the debate around one of Boulder’s most contentious issues in years, the city’s efforts to municipalize its energy supply. Where, according to some, he’s on the wrong side of history.
“I have been working with Xcel since 2006,” admits Moseley. “I went to the very first municipalization task force that the city convened. It’s been very divisive in Boulder, but I am very proud of my work with Xcel. I think it is some of best environmental work that I’m doing. They are the top wind energy company in the country, yet Boulder has spent nearly $13 million with nothing to show for the money; we have not a single kilowatt. If Boulder could come up with a plan and say, ‘We want to be 50 percent renewable energy today’ we could get there. But that’s not through owning poles and wires. That’s a misguided approach. There have been very few people who have watched this from the very first day and that the fact that city has spent $13 million and that money could have delivered actual results if they’d done it right is a huge waste and a missed opportunity.”
Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it’s hard not to concede that Moseley has a point. Given the recent court decisions against the city in regards to municipalization along with the city’s lack of transparency surrounding the internal processes by which the city’s staff is modeling the actual financial costs of municipalization, his work behind the scenes is essential. He’s been involved in showing that the city may be misleading the taxpayers via a Colorado Open Records Act filing and subsequent lawsuit to get the City to release information regarding this modeling, and was involved in this before local news media even considered a public information request.
“It’s easy to point a finger at a big company and get people to emotionally respond that the company is evil,” Moseley says. “But I only am concerned with what is best for the environment and what is right, and I do not take on projects that I do not believe in.”
Moseley’s record supports this. American Rivers is a major client and he has played a key role in preventing a hydroelectric project and accompanying dam supported by the Aspen Skiing Company from being built on Colorado’s Castle Creek.
“That was the strangest coalition we put together,” recalls Moseley. “We had the Sierra Club teaming up with Trout Unlimited and Bill Koch.”
The effort to keep Castle Creek free-flowing was successful and led, according to Moseley, to the Aspen Provision, which says that an entity can’t start buying materials for a hydro project before permits have been issued.
That Moseley’s activism has an environmental bent should come as no surprise. The holder of several records for long-distance swims (one of which, a solo effort across New Orleans’ Lake Pontchartrain, raised money for Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and was profiled in the May 15, 2014 issue of the Boulder Weekly), he’s an advocate for the planet who has real-world political experience, combining a personal passion and energy with a topnotch track record and résumé that’s impressive.
“I had always had an interest in politics and worked for Tom Strickland in 1996 as volunteer coordinator,” Moseley says. “It was a shit job but I found something that I absolutely loved and then I worked on the G7 summit in Denver, where I was a deputy press secretary. That was an amazing experience. I had heard about some opening in Rock the Vote in Los Angeles and went out there to interview with Vickie Sideman.” He laughs, “She took me to Santa Monica Boulevard and we were standing, and she said, ‘Stand up on the bench and pretend you are in front of 3,000 kids telling them why they should vote.’” He laughs again, “So I had to stand up on the bench.”
For Moseley, who is also a musician who gigs with City Councilman Andrew Shoemaker in a band called Sassafras, Rock the Vote was amazing.
“Rock the Vote married music and politics in a way that was extremely effective to get kids to vote,” he says. Adding that increased participation by all ages in politics is a goal for him, as participation is the only way to ensure that the system is truly democratic.
From music to swimming to politics and activism, Moseley rarely slows down. And that’s by design. While he’s one of the main players behind the biggest political issue in years in Boulder, his approach to life is one that inspires, regardless of your political affiliations. “Dream your life and live your dreams,” advises Moseley. “That’s a cliché, but for me it works. I had been swimming for along time, I’ve always been involved in politics, and I love music and it seems in the last five years all these things are converging into one thing, one career and one lifestyle. The things I love most are music, family, sports, friends and career. You put all these ingredients into in a crawfish pot and what comes out is greater than the sum of its parts.”