Red Alert: Control Board Members Announced

The names of the seven members of the federal control board, which President Obama will announce this afternoon, have leaked and many of them will be no surprise to those who followed Control Board Watch. I profiled three appointees including Ana Matosantos (yellow flag), Arthur Gonzalez (yellow-red flag), and Jose Ramon Gonzalez (yellow-green flag).

The nominees who I have not yet profiled are Andrew Biggs, David Skeel, Carlos Garcia, and Jose Carrion, though I heard rumors about each.

Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-of-center think tank in Washington, D.C. In truth, I do not know much about him with regard to his positions on Puerto Rico, but it is notable that his area of expertise at AEI includes state and local public pension reform – a sure sign that Congress sees this as a must-do for the Commonwealth.

Skeel is a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has been outspoken on public finance issues in the past, including Puerto Rico. He has been a supporter of bankruptcy access for Puerto Rico, having written a column for the Wall Street Journal in favor of doing so in January.

Garcia is a former GDB president under Governor Luis Fortuno. As such, he has intimate familiarity with the Commonwealth’s financial operations and the management of our public debt, and no doubt he offers a valuable and unique perspective to the board. His recent tenure at GDB, however, caused controversy during the nomination process. He presided over the GDB at a time when our public debt skyrocketed, and was likely involved with debt issuances that are still outstanding today.

Carrion leads an insurance brokerage firm on the island called Carrión, Laffitte & Casellas, and is deeply respected in the Puerto Rican business community. He has nearly two decades of experience in the insurance industry on the island, and was at one point contacted regarding his interest in the board’s executive director position (which he denied interest in earlier this month). Carrion also happens to be the chief financial officer of the Republican Party in Puerto Rico.

The appointment of the board represents the first major milestone in the implementation of PROMESA, but the crucial work in reinvigorating the Puerto Rican economy is only just beginning. More on the board, as well as its potential staffers and advisers, to come.