WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Treasurer Chip Flowers suffers major blow over dispute with Cash Management Policy Board

Like a certain sheriff in Sussex County, State Treasurer Chip Flowers doesn't seem to get it.

He's not going to win his feud with the Cash Management Policy Board over who control's Delaware's 2-Billion-dollar cash management portfolio. Ain't gonna happen.

The state Attorney General's office ruled Tuesday the Cash Management Policy Board has sole legal authority to make investment decisions concerning that portfolio. To borrow a metaphor from another political realm, the Cash Management Policy Board is the "decider".

That opinion from the A.G.'s office maintains the board's authority extends to decisions regarding asset allocation between short-term and intermediate-term investments, including allocations among different fund managers.

Considering Flowers is barely on speaking terms with members of that board, one suspects the A.G. office's opinion will only inflame Flowers' public position. Indeed, it already has. Speaking with WDEL's Amy Cherry, Flowers characterized the formal opinion as "peculiar" and "non-binding". I can't address the "peculiar" part, but Flowers is technically correct about the "non-binding" part. But, practically speaking, what recourse does he have? Sue the Attorney-General's office?

Well, looks like he's going to sue somebody. Flowers told The NEWS JOURNAL "we expect this issue to be ultimately resolved by the state Supreme Court." And: "I've already got private legal counsel looking at it." (Note the shift from the royal "we" and "Treasury", by which Flowers frequently refers to himself, back to "I". By the way, I don't recall previous state treasurers referring to themselves in that way!)

Incidentally, just as has been the case since his hospitalization in Texas, Beau Biden was granting no one-on-one interviews on the subject. Requests to his press aide on that point went unanswered. That's a topic for another day. (Actually, Chief Deputy A.G. Ian McConnel wrote the opinion, which limited the state Treasurer's constitutional powers to the receipt, care, and disbursement of state funds... NOT the investment of the state's cash portfolio.)

Considering Flowers' other clashes, what's the score now? Delaware Way 3, Flowers 0 ?

Flowers better watch out or else state lawmakers will likely clip his petals come January, narrowly defining his office's responsibilities. State lawmakers avoided taking such action on the final day of the legislative session. If it comes in the new year, the slapdown would be bipartisan.

That is not to imply that Flowers isn't raising some potentially legitimate issues. The Cash Management Policy Board may indeed be an insiders' club, reeking of the "Delaware Way", with members investing state money in financial institutions in which members may have a financial interest -- or at least personal connections. (The chair of the Cash Management Policy Board, John Flynn, insists board members only seek to assign funds equally among the various fund managers.)

But when Flowers threatens to bring matters to the F.B.I. or the Securities and Exchange Commission, it's akin to the use of the 'nuclear option' in the United States Senate. And it's easy fodder for critics who claim Flowers is blowing lots of smoke (or should I say pollen?) just to sidetrack attention from lingering questions about travel expenses charged to his state-issued credit card.

The lingering question assuming increasing urgency as Flowers poisons his position: Will someone in the Democratic Party dare launch a primary challenge against Delaware's first elected, African-American statewide official?

DELAWARE GRAPEVINE's Celia Cohen wrote about this - and Flowers making the rounds - last week...


Posted at 7:23pm on November 26, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Wed, Nov 27, 2013 2:05am
This office is becoming as irrelevant as the lieutenant governor. In fact, I can't even remember who the current occupant of that office is.

Wed, Nov 27, 2013 7:31am
Pizza has a point... It actually took two seconds before I could recall the present Lieutenant Governor... That is bad, especially since I was halfway down on my first cup of coffee. That is the equivalent of a Christian not being able to recite the 4 Gospels.

I think it is because of the silence for which Matt Denn has been known. On all issues in 2013, not one peep. However he has performed the usual obligatory functions such as Veterans Day, etc., along with everyone else of no stature.

If one can remember back that far, ... we once had the former insurance commissioner as a major advocate for offshore wind... insurance? wind power? Go figure.

Matt's silence on Common Core has particularly made him irrelevant and damaged his credentials as a spokesperson for middle-class parents.

Wed, Nov 27, 2013 9:06am
The Lieutenant Governor, although elected separately, is generally expected to echo the Governor's position on issues. Particularly if the two are of the same party. I would expect that person to remain with mouth closed and just preside over the State Senate, which is that person's only job.

Likewise, the state Treasurer should remain quiet. His job is to sign checks and that is it. Mr. Flowers needs to Super-Glue his mouth shut and sign those checks. And get over himself.

Wed, Nov 27, 2013 3:22pm
Very well put, Jim. Matt, if you are listening, just remember the political outcome of the previous Lieutenant Governor who ran for Governor, as the "loyal" employee...

Wed, Nov 27, 2013 3:25pm
Hmmm. It looks like Chip is more politically savvy than Matt in that case. At least, people will know who Chip is, and even though he lost this battle, he's still perceived as fighting against the establishment, and for the people...

Remember, in general elections, once the President is picked, people have no idea who to vote for.....

Mon, Dec 2, 2013 9:28am

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