Chipman “Chip” Flowers Jr., is the former State Treasurer and Co-Chair of the National Democratic State Treasurers. He was sworn in as Delaware’s State Treasurer in January 2011, becoming one of the nation’s youngest treasurers and the state’s first African-American statewide elected official. Under his leadership, the State of Delaware made over $55 million during his term while restructuring, managing and protecting its $2 billion investment portfolio. Considered by some asone of the most influential and transformative political figures in 21st century Delaware politics and at one time a potential candidate for governor, Flowers still remains a strong voice in the public policy arena.
A resident of Boston, Massachusetts and former resident of Middletown, Delaware, Flowers is also a distinguished attorney and business owner. He is the Founder, President and Managing Member of The Flowers Counsel Group, LLC, a leading law firm that he founded in 2006 that represents Global and Fortune 500 clients and academic institutions in major corporate, procurement and mergers & acquisitions transactions. His clients include Harvard University, Barclays Bank, Bank of America, Prudential, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, Dupont, Merck and AstraZeneca, L.P.
In 2014, Flowers married Megan Elizabeth Lallier at the historic Quechee Inn at Marshland Farms in Vermont. The couple is very active in Massachusetts Democratic politics and are supportive of arts and humanities organizations in the area, including the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston, and the Boston Athenaeum.
As the son of a military officer and born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Flowers traveled extensively in his youth, attending public schools in Dallas, Texas, Lawton, Oklahoma and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He attended middle and high school in Italy while his father was stationed overseas and is a graduate of Vicenza American High School in Vicenza, Italy. In 1996, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics with minors in international relations and psychology, and then attended Georgetown University, where he earned his Juris Doctor degree and a Master of Business Administration in 2000. While attending Georgetown, Flowers worked at the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the United States Congressional Joint Economic Committee, USX, Inc. and in the White House Office of Political Affairs during the Clinton administration. Flowers later studied at the Harvard Kennedy School where he earned a Master of Public Administration and received the Don K. Price Award for academic excellence and public service.
Term as Delaware State Treasurer
In 2010, after a largely self-financed campaign, Flowers won the Democratic primary for Delaware State Treasurer against incumbent Velda Jones-Potter with 54.3 percent of the vote. His platform, entitled “The Flowers Framework for Restoring Prosperity,” included a “Financial Warning System” that aimed to categorize economic conditions using a color scheme. Additionally, Flowers proposed a “Hometown Tax Credit” that encouraged businesses to hire from Delaware schools. In the general election in November 2010, Flowers defeated Colin R. Bonini, a three- term Republican state senator from the Dover area, 153,203 to 147,031. After his historic election victory, Flowers proposed extensive innovative changes to the state’s financial system, while overhauling the operations of the treasurer’s office. He also donated his entire first year salary of over $100,000 to fund two fellowships at the Treasury in partnership with United Way of Delaware.
Within 90 days of assuming office, Flowers was confronted with the challenge of deciding whether to remove hundreds of millions of uncollateralized state funds from a failing state financial institution that did not meet the state’s deposit standards . To resolve the issue, Flowers ordered the failing financial institution to move state funds into federally insured transaction accounts and proposed major reforms to diversify the state’s assets by spreading state deposits throughout multiple financial institutions to reduce risk. Flowers’ quick and decisive action was viewed as necessary and proper by many in the financial community and among his fellow state treasurers. However, this monumental decision was not supported by Governor Jack Markell or his appointees on the Cash Management Policy Board, each of whom desired to keep the money in the failing financial institution.
In his first year in office, Flowers was elected to represent the treasurers of the Eastern states on the Executive Committee of the National Association of State Treasurers. In this capacity, he created and developed a relationship between the White House and the association and lobbied for Congressional action on various policy initiatives. In May 2012, the White House commended Delaware and two other state treasuries, for their efforts to promote financial literacy, praising both the Delaware Economic Index and the Prosperity Portal, a web-based repository of information on financial topics. During his term, all three major rating agencies (Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch) awarded a AAA rating to Delaware’s bonds. Later in 2012, when the federal Transaction Account Guarantee (”TAG”) Program was set to expire, Flowers made a decision to secure Delaware’s state deposits by requiring banks holding state funds to post collateral for state accounts with the Federal Reserve (prior to taking office, Delaware was one of a few states that did not require state funds to be collateralized by its financial institutions). This action protected hundreds of millions of state funds and is viewed as one of his major achievements of his term.
In January 2013, Flowers held a major press conference proposing a series of reforms called the “Honest Way” proposals to reform Delaware’s financial system – particularly, the operations of the state’s Cash Board. Under the Honest Way proposals, Flowers proposed that members of the state’s Cash Board would have to file annual financial disclosures (the Cash Board was only required to file disclosures when initially appointed to the Cash Board with no annual update requirement), meet at least quarterly in the management of the state’s investments (the Cash Board was only required to meet twice a year), recuse from votes where members have a conflict (the Cash Board had no policy that required its members to recuse from votes where the members had a personal interest), require term limits (some of the Cash Board members had served since the early 80s) and prohibit Cash Board members from making political contributions from elected officials having a role in the state’s finances. Flowers stated the impetus of the proposals was the one of the Cash Board members, who had given significant funds to the Governor’s campaign and his political action committee, had requested the Treasury place state funds in financial institutions based on his personal interest, not the best interest of the state. The proposals resulted in months of public debate regarding the role of the Cash Board, with the Governor and Democratic leaders of the legislature opposing the proposed reforms. During the press conference, Flowers stated, “I want to work with an honorable Board operating with integrity, not a corrupt Board seeking to use your money for their advantage…I want to do it the right way, not the corrupt way.”
In February 2013, in a rare vote, Flowers almost achieved a major upset when the state’s Republican caucus in the House of Representatives joined some Democrats causing a tie vote for a reform measure sponsored by State Rep. John Kowalko that would have immediately adopted the annual financial disclosure requirement over opposition from the Governor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives (ultimately, the reforms were sent to a committee of the state legislature for review). However, as political payback, the Governor and Democratic leaders of the legislature introduced legislation to reduce the powers of the State Treasurer. Flowers refused to back down and ultimately certain portions of the Honest Way reforms were adopted by the state’s General Assembly.
Flowers generated an impressive record of achievement and emerged as one of the nation’s leading and outspoken treasurers on key economic and financial issues. In 2013, his colleagues elected him to serve as Co-Chair of the National Democratic State Treasurers and he was appointed to the Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Committee. During his term, the state’s previously underperforming investment portfolio was overhauled. He commissioned a report by Credit Suisse Securities USA, LLC, which determined that the rate of return on the state’s portfolio lagged behind the results realized by other states. Through decisions, actions and innovative ideas, Flowers increased the returns of the portfolio by millions of dollars in his first year and the returns have increased in each successive year thereafter, totaling over $55 million when he left office, despite the nation’s difficult economic climate.