Treasurer Curt Meier and his lone challenger — Cheyenne resident, fellow Republican and political newcomer Bill Gallop — both say they’ll base their campaigns on the incumbent’s record of performance. They differ widely on how they believe that record should be viewed.
Gallop formed his first impressions of Meier, he said, during the treasurer’s service on the board of the Wyoming Retirement System, where Gallop worked as a senior investment officer.
Fellow trustees overseeing the investment of pension funds for state employees were less than kind in their critiques of Meier, according to Gallop.
“Board members literally sent out images to Wyoming Retirement System investment staff of Curt Meier asleep in public meetings,” Gallop said.
Gallop said he’s not trying to score political points by recalling those emails. But he thinks he could do better.
“I’m focused on the skill requirements for the Wyoming state treasurer,” Gallop said. “I’ve been a professional investor working large pension plans for three decades.”
Meier, in contrast to his opponent, is a known commodity in Wyoming politics. He served as a state senator representing Goshen, Niobrara and Weston counties for 23 years before being elected treasurer — one of only five statewide elected offices — in 2018. He secured the Republican nomination that year with 50.2% of the vote before cruising to victory in the general election. During Donald Trump’s May 28 rally in Casper, the former president even gave Meier a shout-out.
Meier’s running on his track record leading the Wyoming State Treasurer’s Office for 3.5 years despite some admitted flaws. During the Wyoming Legislature’s 2022 budget session, Meier graded his office’s accounting performance as subpar.
“Disappointing. A C-minus. Some people might think we’re lower,” Meier said at the time. “I’m transparent. It’s not as good as we would like.”
That self critique came while Meier’s office was failing to produce legally mandated financial reports on time, raising transparency concerns, threatening the state’s creditworthiness and inhibiting the work of budgeters and state agencies. At one point in the process, Meier’s office was unable to account for roughly $106 million in state funds. That tardiness held up the State Auditor’s Office’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for six months; the tell-all audit of Wyoming’s financial assets was finally released to the public in mid-June.
But Meier stands behind his tenure as treasurer when taken as a whole. He’s proud, he said, of shoring up and guiding the investment of funds at the Wyoming Retirement System, where his opponent once worked.
“When I started at the system, I think they were at $5 billion,” Meier said. “Now we’re knocking on the door of $9-plus billion.
“It’s changed from when I was first there,” he added. “The board made all the decisions about [investment] managers frankly based on who bought the best bottle of wine the night before. When I got on the board, we shook things up. We got rid of favoritism and nepotism.”
Meier also touted his performance at his core duty: Overseeing management of the state’s coffers. Investment income from Wyoming’s sovereign wealth is a critical source of revenue that the state relies on to balance its budget.
“We went from $20 billion to, within three years, over $25 billion,” Meier said. “There are a lot of good things going on in the treasurer’s office. We’re looking forward to going from the median into the top quartile in our investment funds.”
Gallop disagreed, saying Meier ought to be doing better. The gains Meier points to came during a period of historic growth, a rising tide that lifted all ships.
“If you’re a fisherman, the fish were jumping in the boat during these three years,” Gallop said.
Wyoming’s approach to investing has cost the state billions of dollars, and left it trailing comparable institutions, according to a 2020 WyoFile investigation.
“We’re sitting on $25 billion that’s being under-managed and is underperforming,” Gallop said. “And you have somebody who has no idea what they’re doing and no professional investment background. There’s a skill requirement there. It’s not a legal requirement, but I don’t think the public is aware how bad the treasury portfolio has underperformed its nearest neighbor up the street: the Wyoming Retirement System.”
Meier, whose academic and professional backgrounds are in agriculture, stood behind his qualifications. He grew his LaGrange ranch into a multimillion dollar operation, he said.
“I’ve signed the front of the check and the back of the check,” Meier said. “I know about business. There’s a lot of practical experience that I bring to this job, just not something that you learn about in a college class.”
Gallop has never run for office, but intends to play up his professional background while campaigning, which he admitted has not started in earnest other than online. After growing up in Connecticut he enrolled in the United States Military Academy, graduating from West Point in 1986 with a degree in computer science. He served active duty as an Army officer, then went back to school, earning a master’s of business administration from Cornell University. His first civilian job was on Wall Street in the early ‘90s, then he oversaw a $10 billion endowment for a Hawaiin private school. He also worked for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation before coming to work for the Wyoming Retirement System, where his employment spanned from July 2016 to February 2019, according to the state office.
Sen. Mike Gierau (D-Jackson) is one member of the Wyoming Legislature who’s kept a close eye on the treasurer’s office and is grateful that there’s somebody taking Meier on.
“I think [Meier’s] record on investment and record on his total job performance deserves a total review. Let the voters decide,” Gierau said. “There are 25 billion reasons why voters should care about this race.”