Embattled Delaware State Treasurer used a news conference Wednesday to clear his name and also to call out Governor Jack Markell.
The last few months have been rough for Chip Flowers who was not only accused of abusing his state credit card, but is now dealing with a bill making its way through the General Assembly; a bill he says makes him treasurer in name only.
“The Markell Administration is now asking the legislature to strip the treasury’s ability to stop the unelected cash [management policy] board and exempt that board from public oversight,” Flowers said.
Flowers says Senate Bill 151 gives the cash management policy board final say on the state’s $2 billion investment portfolio. According to Flowers, Markell appointees make up the majority of the board.
“This unelected cash board has asked me, as your state treasurer, on occasion to place funds in banks where some members have had or have a financial or business interest,” Flowers said. “The board has found a way to use political contributions to influence this process.”
However, Governor Markell issued a statement saying the majority of the board’s members are independent investments experts, and that “No one state official should decide how taxpayer funds are invested, and Senate Bill 151 neither takes that power from any official or gives it to any official. It merely confirms that the board makes these decisions, as it has without significant incident for more than 30 years.”
Flowers believes the maligning of his name is part of a political vendetta against him, orchestrated by Gov. Markell. A vendetta that came at former Deputy Treasurer Erika Benner’s expense.
Benner, who resigned last summer, charged thousands of dollars in personal purchases on her state credit card. As a result, Flowers’ use of his state credit card was also called into question. Flowers released his travel documents, reimbursed the state and calls the accusations “complete nonsense.”
And while he says he does not condone what Benner did, outside of that incident, Flowers described Benner’s employment record as impeccable.
“She was caught in the crossfire between a governor and a treasurer,” Flowers said. “She was treated so poorly that her story is eligible for a move on the Lifetime channel.”
As of Wednesday, Flowers said that Benner was no longer being paid or receiving benefits from the state.
Having said all of that, Flowers says his intention is not to assassinate the governor’s character.