UPDATE: KOAA News 5 reported last month about ongoing problems with the Fake Great Colorado Payback:
After Joel Phillips’ mother passed away, he decided to log onto the state’s website and found his mother had more than $2,000 in unclaimed stock dividends. He said getting the State to pay money related with his case has been a bit of a challenge.
“It (the program) said it would take upwards of 20 weeks to get the money back,” Phillips said.
20 weeks came and went without any check.
“Now at the end of 40 weeks, which is 8 months, I called them again and whoever I talked to said they don’t know why it is taking so long,” Phillips said. “They said they would get in touch with a supervisor and if there’s a problem they’ll have them give me a call. I haven’t heard a word and now we are going on 10 months. It’s frustrating because when you watch the commercials and they say they want to get you your money back as quickly as possible, we’re looking at a year and that’s not very quick.”
Nice ads, though.
FOX 31’s Joe St. George reports on a peculiarity we’ve talked about once or twice in this space — and a story that has been gaining more traction in local media outlets — that could become more of an issue than it has been in the past as a point of debate in the Republican gubernatorial race:
For years “The Great Colorado Payback” advertisements have aired on Denver TV stations.
State Treasurer Walker Stapleton appears on camera and encourages Coloradans to check if they have funds owed to them by the state.
This year, some candidates for governor are voicing their criticism with the ad — believing Stapleton, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, is getting free airtime.
“I mean it’s clearly a political ad — they are using public funds,” said Victor Mitchell, a Republican candidate for governor.
Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s official spox, who just happens to be the spouse of the head of Stapleton’s “independent expenditure committee”–that will be a fun arrangement to unpack in a future blog post–fires back with a defense of Stapleton’s Great Colorado Payback ads that…well, honestly isn’t wrong:
“Getting the word out about ‘The Great Colorado Payback’ is about fulfilling his duties as treasurer of Colorado. We do this every year around springtime, and this year Walker also happens to be running for governor,” said Rachel George, a spokeswoman for Stapleton’s Treasury Office.
And this is technically all true. The considerable cost of airing Great Colorado Payback ads is provided for in statute to be paid for by interest on the uncollected assets the program seeks to publicize. Before Stapleton, Democratic Treasurer Cary Kennedy ran similar ads, and those ads have been allowed to bear the likeness and name of the Treasurer without much controversy.
A bigger problem than the ads themselves for Stapleton, however, is the fact that the Great Colorado Payback program under Stapleton’s administration has not been run very well. As CBS Denver reported in 2017:
A CBS4 Investigation has found that the Great Colorado Payback- a state program aimed at reuniting people with their unclaimed or forgotten money- is plagued by problems that are delaying payments by more than a year, in many cases.
State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who administers the program, conceded the problems revealed in the CBS4 Investigation.
”We absolutely have to fix it, it is a big problem,” said Stapleton during an interview with CBS4. ”We recognize it’s a problem, it has to run more efficiently, it’s not running efficiently.” [Pols emphasis]
But apparently it’s running efficiently enough to have spent almost $200,000 to air advertisements–in 2018 alone! The whole time during which, yes, Walker Stapleton has been a candidate for governor.
Even though it’s not historically controversial, it makes good sense to us that Victor Mitchell is calling Stapleton out for the Fake Great Colorado Payback ads. Much like misuse of the congressional franking privilege, it’s exactly the kind of thing that irritates conservative voters about incumbent politicians regardless of party.
Combine that with the fact that the “Payback” isn’t working, and Mitchell has more of a hook than he first thought.