LITTLE ROCK — Republican candidate for state treasurer Dennis Milligan on Tuesday unveiled a “best practices” plan for the office that includes a blind bidding process.
The plan is a response to the ethical problems of former Democratic state Treasurer Martha Shoffner, who was found guilty in March of accepting $36,000 in bribes from a bond broker in exchange for directing a disproportionate share of the state’s investment business to the broker’s firm. Shoffner is awaiting sentencing in federal court.
Milligan’s Democratic opponent, Karen Sealy Garcia, said Tuesday that she released her reform plan for the office a month earlier and was glad to see Milligan “following my lead.”
Milligan, the Saline County circuit clerk, owner of a water-treatment company and former chairman of the state Republican Party, said in a news release Tuesday, “If I am elected, I will remember that every dollar I earn the state in interest is a dollar that doesn’t have to come out of the taxpayers’ pockets. We need a treasurer who gets the best investment deals for Arkansas, not one who helps herself like Democrat Martha Shoffner did.”
Milligan said he would set up a system in which all of those seeking to do business with the treasurer’s office would have to provide audited financial statements; proof of certification by financial-industry regulators; proof of Arkansas registration; a completed broker/dealer questionnaire; certification of having read and agreed to the state’s investment policy; and anti-collusion affidavits.
Those who submit all of the above would be placed on a list that would be submitted to the state Board of Finance for approval, and only those receiving approval would be allowed to bid for state business. Milligan said he wants to partner with the Information Network of Arkansas to set up an electronic trading platform.
“We would send out requests for bids electronically to approved bidders,” he said. “When a bid was submitted, those in the treasurer’s office working with the bids would only see a number, not the name of the bidder. Only after the bid process is completed would the name of the bidder be known.”
Milligan also said wants to review and update the state’s investment policy, which he said was last updated in 1998, so it matches the technology available today while including provisions to provide maximum security with the best investment return, maintain cash flow demands and conform to all law governing the investment of public funds.
He said he would use investment diversification to reduce overall portfolio risk for the state’s money; create the position of internal compliance officer in the office to make sure that rules, policies, procedures and laws are being complied with; and partner with Transparency.Arkansas.gov to establish real-time online reporting of investments, investment managers, and rates of return.
“I will also hold regular news conferences to report on the progress being made in the treasurer’s office,” Milligan said. “I plan to go beyond the requirements of the office and issue a quarterly State Economic Report.”
Garcia, a certified public accountant and member of the Hot Springs Board of Directors, said in an email Tuesday, “Unlike my opponent, my plan does not need additional staff because I already have 30 years of experience overseeing internal controls and compliance and won’t need the on-the-job training my opponent will apparently need. I’m a professional accountant, not a professional politician, and I’m the only candidate with the right kind of experience to clean up the mess in the state treasurer’s office.”
Milligan and Garcia will face Libertarian candidate Chris Hayes in the Nov. 4 election.