Lansing— Gov. Rick Snyder appointed insurance and financial services director Kevin Clinton on Tuesday to become the next state treasurer — a role in which Clinton hopes to develop a system to predict which communities are headed for financial problems.
By Nov. 1, Clinton will replace Treasurer Andy Dillon, who has helped oversee Detroit’s bankruptcy case and deal with a growing number of financial emergencies in the state’s municipalities and school districts.
A fellow University of Michigan alumnus who joined Snyder’s administration in March, Clinton heads the state Department of Insurance and Financial Services, which regulates Michigan’s financial industries, including banks, credit unions and insurance and mortgage companies.
Snyder also appointed Ann Flood director of the financial services department, where she has been chief deputy director. Flood, like Clinton, came to state government from a quarter-decade as a private-sector insurance executive.
“Kevin Clinton is an experienced and capable leader with a track record of success,” Snyder said in a statement. “I am confident he will serve the Department of Treasury and the people of our great state well as we continue our work to reinvent Michigan.”
Clinton has a U-M master’s degree in actuarial science, a discipline that uses mathematical and statistical techniques to determine risk in insurance, finance and other industries and professions. He also has a U-M undergraduate degree in business administration.
“Those of us who are nerds, who are accountants, actually look up to actuaries ... as being another step up,” Snyder joked.
Clinton said as treasurer, he intends to develop actuarial-type factors for determining five years in advance which cities and school districts are headed toward fiscal disaster. The state has guidelines but lacks a science-based model for it, he said.
Before becoming financial services department head, Clinton spent more than six years as president and CEO of American Physicians Capital Inc., an East Lansing medical professional liability insurance firm.
As treasurer, he’ll get the same salary as Dillon, $174,204 a year, said Snyder press secretary Sara Wurfel. Flood will be paid what Clinton now makes, $145,000.
Clinton, who was born in Hamtramck and lived in Detroit during his infancy, said he has no qualms about taking on duties Lt. Gov. Brian Calley described as among the toughest in state government.
“I want to do everything that is necessary to help Detroit succeed,” he said. “I’ve always liked a challenge.”
Clinton noted he has private-sector experience as a chief financial officer or CEO charged with restoring stability to financially challenged companies.
“I’m going to have to do a considerable amount of homework,” he acknowledged. “That’s why it’s good to have Andy Dillon sticking around.”
Dillon plans to assist with Clinton’s transition.
Snyder was quick to find a replacement for Dillon, whose departure was announced five days ago but had been in the works for weeks. He refused to say whether he tried to talk the current treasurer out of departing.
“Andy’s issues are largely personal issues,” Snyder said. He said Dillon “made the call” about resigning after the two of them discussed Dillon’s widely publicized divorce troubles and brief leave to deal with a drinking issue late last year.
Dillon, former Democratic House speaker from 2007-10, has been dogged by personal problems stemming from his divorce from Carol Owens-Dillon in March. He said acrimony from the divorce painfully exposed his family to public scrutiny and was an unwanted distraction for state residents.
Dillon also is troubled by questions that have prevented the secretary of state office from closing out campaign finance disclosure accounts from his unsuccessful 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary candidacy.
Clinton was scheduled to meet with Dillon for a briefing later Tuesday. His first questions, he said, would be: “Where do I start? Where should I be spending my time?”
Clinton said he hadn’t yet met Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, with whom he’ll work closely.
Pete Kuhnmuench, executive director of the Insurance Institute of Michigan, said Clinton “has done an outstanding job” as the insurance regulator.
“He balanced the needs of consumers while allowing insurance carriers the ability to grow in the marketplace,” Kuhnmuench said.