WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Chip Flowers promises to make travel documents public next week... were those the same documents that got lost?

Are you following the incredible zig zags in the Chip Flowers story?

Delaware's State Treasurer has generated more column inches in The NEWS JOURNAL and more airtime on local radio than any other state Treasurer in memory. If the coverage were mostly positive, that would be an incredible thing for a state Treasurer seeking name recognnition.

The twists and the turns in this story are breathtaking. In just the past few days, Treasurer Flowers indicated financial records from his office were missing, or, at the very least, were awry. Perhaps because of the intensely negative fallout, Flowers then declared on his Facebook page that he would release travel documents next week related to his Alaska trip. Hmmm. Did Flowers suddenly find the previously missing documents? Or is he just hobbling together SOMETHING so he can proclaim his transparency to the media even as the released documents fail to answer all the relevant questions.

I actually think the insinuations that Flowers had a personal relationship with his former deputy, Erika Benner, are a side show. The real story is Flowers casting aspersions on nearly everyone else when he, at one point, concedes that documents from only ten months ago somehow evaporated. And frankly how a smart guy loaded with ambitions for higher office could've made such a mess of things.

Sure, the knives are out for Flowers from the Delaware political establishment, which has little patience or tolerance for his grandiose ideas for broadening the parameters of his office and putting state funds at additional risk in the expectation of a greater return. But many of Flowers' wounds appear to be self-inflicted.

Too bad Delaware Attorney-General Beau Biden can't - or won't - launch an investigation into a fellow Democrat.

Delaware Republican leaders have (belatedly) pounced on Flowers, saying he needs outside help. Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson (R-Milford) and Minority Whip Greg Lavelle (R-Sharpley) says it's time for Flowers to get his office in order.

Flowers seems to have enough free time on his hands to immediately react to things heard on WDEL. (Although I freely admit one can multitask; listen to the radio while doing other things, at least to SOME extent.) When I was interviewing longtime Delaware political observer (and Delaware State Chamber of Commerce Veep) Rich Heffron about political reactions to Flowers' situation - that most Delaware politicos have regarded him as a "loose cannon from the beginning" - Flowers immediately called my producer, Al Mascitti, asking to go on-the-air. Unfortunately, my airtime is very limited - compared to a talk-show - and I now have an even more rigid formatic skeleton because the "Delaware News at Noon" airs on both 1150 A.M.-WDEL and Delaware 105.9 (WXDE), consequently with hard break times.

I've interviewed Flowers in the past, but frankly, the issues are so complex, and Flowers is so adept at spinning, I think it's better to interview Flowers on a talk-show, as Al Mascitti did last week.

The DELAWARE LIBERAL blog has been having a field day with the Flowers story. No matter that most of Delaware Liberal's columnists (and commenters) are D's. (And some from the right might think political correctness might reign supreme at Delaware Liberal, considering Flowers is Delaware's first elected African-American statewide official. Not exactly.)


Posted at 7:14am on November 6, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Wed, Nov 6, 2013 8:26am
As any gardener will readily attest, it takes a lot of manure to make healthy flowers....

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Nov 6, 2013 8:49am
Sure the Delaware Libs and DEMS are saying he lied now, just like Tom Gordon, back a few years ago. Look who's again our County Exec., Tom Gordon. So come the next election, the DEMS, who are the majority in the state, will overlook his "sins" and re-elect him.

So essentially, they've "spanked" him and said don't ever do this again, but don't worry, we've got your back in the next election. We'd rather have a naughty DEM in power than a Republican.

To be fair, the GOP does this too, both sides do it, which is in part what makes politics so dirty. However, in Delaware the DEMS seem to do it far more as the DEMS do control the state making it pretty difficult to unseat a DEM who "screws up" in Delaware.

Allan Loudell
Wed, Nov 6, 2013 9:00am
Just remember, Mike from Delaware...

Most of the folks at Delaware Liberal are Gordon haters!

Support for Gordon comes from blue-collar and city Dems, even some cross-over, small "R" Republicans, not the liberal intelligentsia.

Gordon forged a coalition with African-American politicians (Williams, Potter) and ran very strongly in the city.

Some suburban Democrats & Republican were prepared to forgive him for his "sins" because they perceived him as a strong administrator, and particularly, because of his anti-rampant-development credentials. Plus the anti-Gordon forces could not rally around a single candidate.

Allan Loudell

Wed, Nov 6, 2013 9:21am
It's a non-story as you have stated, Allan, the A.G. will do nothing against another elected official. Christ Tigani is in jail but his most complicit sidekicks (RAM, Nathan Hayward, etc) are still walking around free. I can't think of any Delaware politician, besides Kermit Justice, being held accountable. Why should they? They know how easy it is to feign ignorance while someone else does time (Tigani, Zimmerman, etc)

Allan Loudell
Wed, Nov 6, 2013 9:39am

For the record, Kermit Justice served in two Republican gubernatorial administrations (DuPont & Castle), and his wife Rita was the Republican New Castle County Executive, so I always assumed he was a Republican.

Allan Loudell

Wed, Nov 6, 2013 9:48am
And when Justice was indicted Charles Oberly was A.G.

Wed, Nov 6, 2013 10:46am
I'm surprised the real show, as put by Allan, has been kept out of the spotlight so long.

The real show: Five Delaware banks control the state's investment fund. They take state money, make 20% on it, then pay the state 2% or 3% a return...

Chip tried to break that "old boy" network and allow the state to get a higher rate of return. Naturally many Delaware banks, shut-out by the old guidelines, were willing to jump in.

You may remember this controversy last spring when Patty Blevins, at the behest of the big 5, tried to pass a law banning the state treasurer from ever interfering with the golden cow these big banks have. Enough legislative opposition rose up challenging her power, so under the guise of a contorted conversation between all parties, the bill was dropped on the last day of session.

That is why there are legs to this story. Personally I believe there is a romantic relationship involved; I think his public denial was a mistake. I have no personal knowledge, just am basing it upon the public picture of his assistant released from Alaska. If Chip didn't have romantic intentions, he is gay. Pure and simple.

Nothing wrong with that.

As for the records, it struck close to home. One of my projects has been to organize my own company's records, which have been in disarray ever since we have gone over to electronics.

We have become so electronically addicted, that all our paperwork simply goes in boxes, which get dated, and then some outside organization picks them up every 4---6 months and we never look at them again. If someone were to challenge me, show me your signature, I would be as hard-pressed as Mr. Flowers to round it up....

It would be daunting just to figure out where to begin....

Wed, Nov 6, 2013 11:34am
There is something about the office of State Treasurer in Delaware. Before her sojourn as New Castle County Executive, Republican Rita Justice had held that office. Turns out she lied about nearly everything, including the color of her eyes and hair on her driver’s license. After her, we had Republican Janet Rzewnicki. That is when the General Assembly stepped in and deleted many of the official duties the office was responsible to carry out. Ms. R, like Ms. Justice, was not known for her brilliance. She generated many headlines for the trouble she caused the Republicans.

Chip Flowers fits the mold for the office. Exaggerate the job. Tell voters the Earth orbits around yourself, not the sun. Meanwhile, fail to pay attention to details. I do not expect the officeholder to also be a file clerk. But if you are such a hotshot Treasurer, you should at least have a staff that knows what documents to save in a safe place. Oh, and misplace travel documents at a time when auditors are focusing on that documentation. Travel expenses are receiving much attention from both federal and state auditors right now.

Flowers is going to face hard times from fellow Democrats as well as Republicans. He is not simply eying re-election. He is eying the Governor’s office. He knows that Tom Carper and Jack Markell both started there. Even Janet Rzewnicki used that office as a launching pad for her run against then-Governor Tom Carper. Every lost document, every so-called wasted dollar, every rumored affair, will come back to haunt him. And like Ms. R and Ms. Justice before him, he really does not seem to be bright enough to watch his back.

But he does not appear to have done anything for which he should be removed from office. The last time a Delaware governor removed an officeholder was while Democrat Sherman Tribbitt held the office. He removed NCCo Executive Mel Slawik, the Democrat elected in 1972.

Wed, Nov 6, 2013 3:07pm
"The real show: Five Delaware banks control the state's investment fund. They take state money, make 20% on it, then pay the state 2% or 3% a return... " Uh, kavips do you know how the monies are invested, and how they are structured? It's all in corporate and government debt. Ergo, low returns based on risk projections. I would tell you exactly how the portfolio is managed, but that isn't available on the Treasurer's website. It says coming soon, and has been coming soon for many months.

Wed, Nov 6, 2013 7:46pm

Somewhere there is a directive that specifies all that. I'll have to go back to last June and look it up. I was in there and remember it...and should have a link.

What you are forgetting is that a bank's money all goes into one pot and that gets invested accordingly. There is no reason a bank cannot speculate on money they should have in safe investments, then put those investments there when payoff comes. How do you think banks make money off your CD's?

Wed, Nov 6, 2013 8:47pm
I've always considered Chip Flowers the political equivalent to Rodney King.

Thu, Nov 7, 2013 2:18am
Chip Flowers needs one of these...

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Nov 7, 2013 8:06am
Allan: Good points made above. The other thing I've heard some folks say why they voted for Gordon is he didn't raise county taxes during his terms in office. So that, for some, also made looking the other way from his "sins" a bit easier too.

Thu, Nov 7, 2013 9:49am

CD rate of return and underlying institutional investments have no correlation.

And a bank can increase a return beyond what an institution's portfolio is yielding. Derivatives, MBOs, etc., are held in a bank's instutional portfolio but not in the states. It's called comingling, and it's illegal.

Thu, Nov 7, 2013 5:40pm
Arthur, you missed my point. You give a bank $100,000 as a CD and it invests that money at 20% and pays you 2%. There is a correlation.

A state gives a bank $1 billion dollars and the bank does the same.

The problem with Flowers is that the bank would not be getting that $1 billion dollars. Some other bank would.

And whereas comingling is illegal, so is driving over the speed limit. On both, it is very common practice and very hard to find someone who will not do it, unless one happens to be in the presence of a policeman or a regulator.

Thu, Nov 7, 2013 10:05pm
I lost track. Is Friday (today/tomorrow) the day Chip is turning over his Alaskan financial records?


Just remembered and chuckled so decided to mark it here, that earlier today on the Rick Jensen show, a caller called up not in Rick's camp on the issue of Obamacare and said his piece and then told Rick he was going to hang up and would listen on the air, and Rick says...Wait one second there; Aren't you going to let me get my side in on the conversation!!!!! And the other guy on the phone drops his voice low and says... i'm at work. I'll get fired. i got to go right now..."

I'm still chuckling.... But isn't it great that someone thought it so important to make a statement they thought was not getting carried, that they took such a huge risk to do so?

Sometimes even talk show hosts have got to be proud of what they do..... :)

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