The August primaries are just around the corner, and money matters to the 11 candidates for state treasurer, whose numbers will be whittled to no more than three after Aug. 3.
Three Democrats and seven Republicans are vying for their parties’ nominations, while one Libertarian is running in the primary unopposed.
The state treasurer doesn’t have the intimidating appeal of attorney general and doesn’t get to participate in the debates of the Missouri General Assembly, but the quiet seat of the state’s chief financial officer has been a training ground for Govs. Bob Holden and Mel Carnahan. Nancy Farmer, the current state treasurer, is running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. senator.
Aside from duties such as managing the state’s $19 billion in annual revenue, the state treasurer manages a portfolio of investments totaling about $3 billion.
The Missouri Constitution and state laws authorize the treasurer to invest state money that is not needed for daily operations. Mark Mathers, director of investment for the treasurer, said the money is invested in the portfolio or funneled into treasurer’s office programs, such as the Missouri First Linked Deposit, a low-interest loan program for small business owners and farmers.
According to the state treasurer’s newest version of its investment policy, which was adopted on June 23, “safety of principal is the foremost objective of the investment program.”
The candidates, listed in order of their position on the primary ballot, shared their strategies for investing state money.
- Jason Klumb, who served two terms as a state representative from 1992 to 1996, wants to identify safe and secure investments for tax dollars. He would like to double the amount of money invested in state banks as long as the accounts offer competitive interest rates.
- Mark Powell worked as a banker for 24 years and was elected mayor of Arnold in 2001. He wants to earn money for the state from high-interest returns. He would invest in more local banks provided the in-state investments create jobs and were in high-interest accounts.
- Mark Abel is serving his sixth term in the Missouri House of Representatives. He wants to ensure there is enough money to cover the state’s cash flow, then free up additional money to invest in a portfolio. He says he would need to compare the potential interest returns from out-of-state investment with the positive economic effects of investing in Missouri banks, which may offer lower returns but boost economic development and employment.
- Chet Boeke is making his second bid for the Republican nomination for treasurer after an unsuccessful run in 2000. He was elected to the state House of Representatives and served one term in 1992. Boeke said he would invest Missouri money in- state to increase employment.
- Al Hanson says he would rely on his Wall Street background and his status as a Jefferson City outsider to invest state money wisely. Hanson worked for 30 years as a professional stock and contract trader. He is also a former member and seat owner of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange and the Inter-Mountain stock exchange.
- Will Pundmann founded Pundmann & Co., a private investment banking firm, in 1984 and now serves as president and chief investment officer. He wants to establish a fund to create new industries and jobs. He believes diversification, not increased in-state investment, is the best means to improve the overall performance of state investments, but he also favors moving some investments into Missouri under appropriate conditions.
- Tom Klein works at Windows On Washington, a St. Louis banquet and catering facility, which he started in 1994. He could not be reached for comment. His Web site, however, says he wants to bring his business experience to the treasurer’s office.
- Sarah Steelman is serving her second term as a state senator and worked as an economist for the Missouri Department of Revenue. Steelman said more than 88 percent of taxpayer money is invested outside Missouri, a situation that she calls outrageous. She wants to bring money back to Missouri banks to encourage economic development.
- Anita Yeckel, a state senator for the past eight years with 30 years of experience in banking, is concerned about the state’s lack of investment in Missouri banks. She wants to create a new board of advisers to the treasurer to examine and respond to the state’s economic needs.
- Blaine Luetkemeyer is serving his third term as a state representative, works as a loan officer for St. Elizabeth Bank and owns the Luetkemeyer Insurance Agency. He said his experience in finance helps him understand how the treasurer’s office operates. He would like to address the lack of investment in Missouri banks and who is qualified to receive those investments.
- Lisa J. Emerson is a recent MU graduate with bookkeeping experience. She wants to distribute money to as many banks with competitive returns as possible, which she believes is the most profitable option for Missourians. She would like to invest more money in-state to create jobs.