JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- About one out of every seven Missouri lawmakers has some money waiting for them in the capital, and many may not even know it.
An Associated Press review of the Missouri treasurer's online unclaimed property database showed that 12 senators, 16 members of the House of Representatives and two congressmen could make claims ranging from $1 to more than $50.
The treasurer's office holds the contents of such things as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, insurance policies and safety deposit boxes for which there has been no activity or contact with the owner for at least five years. The money is returned when people or their descendants come forward to claim it.
Missouri currently is holding more than $600 million in unclaimed property from more than 3.5 million accounts, with an average worth of $365 per claim, treasurer's office spokesman Jon Galloway said. One in 10 Missouri residents have assets being held by the state -- a rate just a little better than that of state lawmakers.
Sen. Carl Vogel, R-Jefferson City, said he repeatedly has found his property on the database and recently reclaimed money from 10-year-old stocks.
While he declined to give the amount, Vogel said "this last one was a pleasant surprise."
State law doesn't allow the treasurer's office to disclose actual amounts above $50 on the database Web site. Physical items from safety deposit boxes are auctioned every 18 to 24 months because of space restraints, and the state holds the money indefinitely in a claimable account.
The treasure's office has 14 employees working to connect people with their unclaimed property by mailing postcards to their last known addresses and printing names in newspapers. The state doesn't target specific groups such as lawmakers when hunting for property owners.
The AP review of the unclaimed property database showed several lawmakers who used either the Capitol building or a published home address as the last known residence attached to the property.
Former Gov. Matt Blunt has more than $50 in unclaimed money that lists the secretary of state's office as his last address. U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan has two property claims for more than $50 that list the Missouri statehouse as his last known address. U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton has unclaimed property priced between $30 and $40.
Spokesmen for the three officials said they were unaware of the unclaimed money until contacted by the AP. Blunt's spokesman said the money belongs to the state, not to the former governor. Spokesmen for both congressmen said there is a chance the money could belong to them and the congressmen would look into it.
On the Net:
Treasurer's Lost and Found: http://www.showmemoney.com
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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