Delaware lawmakers call out state treasurer
In no uncertain terms, Delaware senate Republican leaders want State Treasurer Chip Flowers to get his office in order.
In a letter sent to Flowers yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson and Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle write, "the ongoing allegations, confusion and inability to consistently and factually document the use of taxpayer funds for travel in your office need to be addressed immediately."
Recent reports in The News Journal cite missing records and receipts pertaining to an Alaska trip Flowers and his then deputy state treasurer, Erika Benner, made last September to attend a conference. The articles state Flowers has not provided adequate evidence that money billed to the state to stay a few extra days was reimbursed.
Benner reportedly resigned after it was discovered she bought football tickets and made other personal purchases on her state credit card.
The letter goes on to say, "We are also concerned that your current management practices might be impacting your office’s critical function of managing almost $2 billion in state tax funds.” Simpson and Lavelle also ask about Benner's employment status, whether she resigned or is on short-term disability, in which case tax dollars are still covering her $97,869 annual salary.
Treasurer Flowers, who denies any wrongdoing, thanked Senators Simpson and Lavelle in his own letter also dated Nov. 5. Pointing out the funds in question total less than $7,000 he writes, "I appreciate your concern over this limited matter... I assure you that the Treasury is fully functional and operational," citing the state portfolio's increased value since he's taken office.
"Certain travel documents relating to the former Deputy State Treasurer and the State Treasurer were missing and not properly placed in our office and have recently been located," Flowers said. "These documents will be placed online in their entirety next week."
With respect to Benner's employment status, Flowers refers the state lawmakers to the Office of Management and Budget.
OMB says Benner has requested to return to a state merit system position and that, "Ms. Benner is currently being paid by the state treasurer’s office. The state’s merit laws protect employees’ rights with due process and prohibit depriving an employee of pay without reasonable explanation and justification."