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Oklahoma elected officials among unclaimed property owners

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb is among Oklahomans the state treasurer's office has been unable to find to reunite with their lost funds. So are many state legislators, said state Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City.
by Randy Ellis Published: May 12, 2013

Reynolds, however, said some of the names of elected officials are unusual and many of the names on the unclaimed property list give addresses that match the hometowns of the elected officials, so he believes they are likely the same.

The Oklahoman spot-checked some of the matches Reynolds came up with and found that some of the elected officials did, indeed, appear to be the owners of unclaimed property, while others apparently were not.

‘Get repaid'

Lt. Gov. Lamb's name was on the list accompanied by an Edmond address. Lamb's chief of staff, Keith Beall, checked with Lamb's wife and said he was able to confirm that the Todd Lamb listed on the unclaimed property list was, indeed, the lieutenant governor. The Edmond address was one of their previous home addresses, Beall said.

“Thank you for bringing it to our attention,” Beall said. “We'll submit the form and get repaid.”

Lamb won't get rich off the claim. The treasurer's office lists the value of the property as “under $100.”

The name of state Rep. R.C. Pruett, D-Antlers, is also on the list — twice. Pruett said he's convinced at least one of the names on the list is him because the address listed is that of his grocery store. That property is identified as a $90 tax rebate.

“That gives me a good feeling,” Pruett chuckled. “The state owes me something instead of me owing the state something. That's almost as good as a tax cut.”

Pruett might feel even better if the other R.C. Pruett on the list turns out to be him, because the value of the property is listed as “over $100.” No address is listed for that property owner.

State Auditor Gary Jones said his name popped up twice on unclaimed property lists within the last couple of years, prompting him to file claims. Jones said once he got back about $1,000 and the other time between $3,000 and $4,000.

Jones said he has lived in the same house 34 years, but some stock-related checks apparently were sent back as undeliverable after the post office began using a street address rather than post office box address for his mail to conform with a new 911 emergency locator system.

State Rep. Todd Thomsen, R-Ada, was not as lucky as the others.

“That's not me,” Rep. Thomsen said, explaining that the Todd Thomsen on the unclaimed property list had a Midwest City address with which he has never been associated.

Reynolds said he believes the treasurer has an incentive to make it difficult for Oklahomans to get their lost property back. He noted that state law gives the treasurer the authority to periodically declare that a portion of unclaimed property is unlikely to ever be reclaimed and to make those funds available to the Legislature for appropriation.

This year, $45 million in unclaimed property funds were made available for appropriation, Allen said.

Allen said the actual owners of unclaimed property will always retain their property rights.

by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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