This is the 4th part of an on-going look at the lack of transparency in Governor Markell’s Administration.
When Treasurer Markell won his gubernatorial race in Delaware, his Treasurer’s seat became an appointment opportunity for him to fill. He selected Velda Jones-Potter (You can find her bio here). Other than her City Councilman husband, Charles Potter, she had no previous, direct political experience. She was one of the business professionals brought in by Governor Markell to change business as usual in Delaware.
On February 9th, 2009, Treasurer Jones-Potter issued a joint press release with Auditor Tom Wagner in which she said:
“In light of all of the ‘pay to play’ scandals that headline our newspapers on a daily basis, there is absolutely no reason why any of us as elected officials should be entitled to any gift or gratuity based simply on the fact that we hold elective office, I think Governor Markell’s Executive Order is a great first step to help restore citizen’s faith in government.”
Of course, that was then, and now she is running to actually be elected as State Treasurer. So in late October, during “National Save for Retirement Week”, Treasurer Jones-Potter seems to have been the recipient of a “gift or gratuity based simply on the fact that [she] hold[s] elective office.” At the end of this post, you will see a copy of a print ad that was run in newspapers across Delaware as well as the audio of a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that was run on various radio stations. You’ll notice that neither ad states who paid for it.
Senator Colin Bonini, also an announced candidate for the Treasurer’s office, asked the current Treasurer a simple question: “Who paid for these ads? The taxpayer or someone else?”
The response from the Treasurer was “we’re not going to tell you so go file a FOIA”.
Seems to me that the Treasurer is hiding something. If not, then why not answer the question without creating a legal hurdle? Is she just another member of the Governor’s circle who is circling the wagons and avoiding accountability? Or is it an innocent political mistake by a neophyte, creating an issue where there isn’t one? The solution for her and the taxpayer is simple… Answer the question. Who paid for these ads?
Update on 12-9-2009:
It seems that the Treasurer likes to pick & choose to whom she speaks. Obviously, members of the news media, such as Mr. Williams with the News Journal, got access while elected officials did not, as evidenced by the letter below.
I leave it to the reader to decide two things: 1) Is it appropriate for a member of the Executive Branch to deny public information to an elected representative while providing that information to the media? And 2) does the Treasurer’s negotiation of a contract requiring the vendor to produce ads promoting the Treasurer constitute a “pay-to-play” (i.e. a gift) by the vendor to get that contract?
End of Update