Delaware treasurer makes first move in campaign

 Delaware Treasurer Chip Flowers

Delaware Treasurer Chip Flowers

Delaware Treasurer Chip Flowers has thrown the first punch ahead of what could be a knock-down, drag-out fight for the Democratic nomination this September.

Using social media, Flowers announced his ideas for the treasurer’s office, should voters elect him to represent the party over fellow Democrat Sean Barney.

“I do believe that this is the first major step for any candidate running for office who put the plan out there,” Flowers said.

His ideas

The ideas are a continuation of Flowers’ push for, in his opinion, much needed transparency in the treasury and include:

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Restructuring the state strategic fund to invest taxpayer money in private companies on rare occasions and only to companies with proven track records through an “open and competitive” process available to all businesses. 

“That’s the ideal way that we should be doing the strategic fund, not through backroom deals or things of that nature,” Flowers said. “Then people can see what’s going on behind the curtain, see how the hot dogs are made.”

Flowers added since taxpayers are providing the capital they need to become investors. Under his plan, Delawareans over the age of 18 would be entitled to receive up to $1,500 per person annually.

Only purchasing and holding securities from companies that meet the highest social, environmental and governance standards, i.e. do not engage in unethical practices like child labor
Creating a think tank and a financial and economic analysis center
Continuing to push for reforms affecting Cash Management Policy Board members, subjecting them to a strong conflict of interest policy and limiting them to a maximum of three terms

“I think some of the old ways that we can’t seem to let go are keeping us back. The backroom deals, the side deals and people say, ‘Well, we just go along to get along here,’ but that’s not the new generation, that’s not the Delaware that I want to see in the 21st century.”

Incorporating financial education/money management programs into every Delaware high school 
Imposing a term limit for state treasurers

“I think that you have to put your money where your mouth is, and I believe that two terms is sufficient,” said Flowers. “I’m going to enjoy passing the baton four years from now to someone else and say, ‘Hey, now it’s your turn to put your ideas out there.'”

Under his leadership, Flowers said the state has made more than $45 million, and is hopeful the current governor and/or the state’s new governor will work with him to make his ideas a reality.

“You can only say no so many times, you’re eventually gonna have to start saying yes,” Flowers said.

September showdown

The incumbent will face off against Sean Barney in the September 9 primary.

In a statement, Barney agreed with Flowers that the state treasurer should do more to help people with financial literacy. He too has talked about expanding financial education in Delaware public schools. The niceties, however, ended there. 

“The erratic behavior of Chip Flowers led Delaware legislators of both parties to unanimously pass a law earlier this year clarifying the limits of Flowers’ authority to invest state money. Given that history, Mr. Flowers isn’t a credible messenger for proposals to expand the authority of the State Treasurer,” Barney’s statement read.

Barney referenced Flowers’ very public battle with the state’s Cash Board, which resulted in the passage of Senate Bill 151. The measure clarifies the nine member board, not the treasurer alone, decides how to invest the state’s $2 billion. Many have said the bill strips the treasurer of investing power. 

Barney served as an aide to Delaware Sen. Tom Carper and most recently as Gov. Jack Markell’s policy director. 

Flowers has said in the past he believes Markell has a political vendetta against him. It’s not clear whether the governor encouraged Barney to run.

The winner in September will go up against Republican Ken Simpler in November.

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