- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware state treasurer Chip Flowers has been cleared of accusations that he harassed his former deputy, Dover police said Wednesday.

Authorities determined that no charges against Flowers were warranted after investigating a claim that he had harassed former deputy treasurer Erika Maczuba Benner with unwanted texts and phone calls.

“He has been cleared,” said police spokesman Cpl. Mark Hoffman.

Flowers thanked investigators for their work and said he and his fiancee were glad that his name has been cleared.

“The false claims filed by Ms. Maczuba Benner were horrible,” said Flowers, who believes the harassment complaint was meant to affect his Sept. 9 Democratic primary election.

“Political disputes and disagreements should be resolved with the ballot box, and not our legal system,” said Flowers, who dropped his re-election bid a week after Benner filed the harassment complaint.

While maintaining his innocence, Flowers said last month that he was quitting politics because he was tired of fending off false accusations regarding Benner, who resigned last year after repeatedly misusing her state credit card.

“I think we did the right thing … and I don’t have any regrets,” he said.

Benner declined to comment Wednesday, saying she had not yet heard from Dover police.

Benner had alleged that the harassment began after an encounter between Flowers and her 16-year-old son as Flowers was waiting to participate in a Fourth of July parade in Dover. According to the complaint, Flowers told Benner that if her son approached him again, he would have to defend himself with a gun.

Flowers, who is black, claims Benner’s son threatened him, using a racial slur. Benner and her son are white.

In a July 6 incident report, police wrote that Benner said she and Flowers had a romantic relationship that ended in 2012 and was physical at times. Benner later denied having a romantic relationship with Flowers and said the police report was incorrect.

Police said Benner’s initial complaint in July did not result in an investigation because there was no indication a crime had been committed. But she contacted police again on Aug. 7, saying Flowers was still calling and texting her after she told him to stop.

Flowers denied harassing Benner and provided investigators several text messages showing that she repeatedly contacted him after complaining that he was harassing her. Investigators compared the text messages with records subpoenaed from the phone company.

“The contact between the two parties appears to be mutual, and the claims of harassment are unfounded,” Hoffman said. “There will be no charges against any of the parties involved.”

Flowers said he his attorney were looking “at all legal options available to us” against Benner.

Benner left her state job last year after officials discovered repeated unauthorized use of her state credit card for personal expenses, including more than $1,000 for football tickets and private car service to a New England Patriots game that she and Flowers attended.

Benner reimbursed the state for the improper charges, but the controversy prompted Flowers to announce that he, too, would reimburse the state for certain expenses. Much of the scrutiny over spending by treasury officials involved a 2012 trip to Alaska by Flowers and Benner.

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