WASHINGTON – Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer puts a searchable database of unclaimed property on his Web site, one of several ways the state tries to help Marylanders reclaim the money they are owed.
Note to Schaefer: Check your own database.
If the comptroller looked, he would find an entry for “Marylanders for Schaefer,” a leftover from one of the several campaigns he entered during a 48-year political career that has included Baltimore City and state offices.
The state does not post the amounts in the unclaimed property accounts, just the names of the last owners. But Schaefer’s is not the only famous name that pops up on the database of $240 million of property turned over to the state from abandoned bank accounts and safe-deposit boxes — one of which contained a birth announcement for John F. Kennedy.
A search also turns up Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski, former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke and former congressman Kweisi Mfume, the current president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Author Tom Clancy, who owns a home in Huntingtown, is perhaps the most famous person on the list.
Former Maryland governor Spiro T. Agnew was on the list, but his name was removed recently. The disgraced vice president died in 1996.
“I don’t think Agnew will be looking for it,” said Mike Golden, spokesman for the comptroller’s office.
The politicians’ names appear in the lost-money listing with hundreds of thousands of unknown citizens, businesses and groups like “Christmas Club 1974” and “Troop 10 Boy Scouts of America.”
Golden said Schaefer has found his own name on the list three times in the past — twice for bank accounts and once for an insurance policy. As for the other politicos and Clancy, Golden said the office treats them the same as everyone else.
“We’re just custodians. We don’t go in and look for famous people,” he said.
After Schmoke’s mother saw his name in a recent newspaper listing of unclaimed property, he checked in with the comptroller’s office, hoping for a hoard of lost cash. He would not say how much he got back, but laughed as he said it was not the treasure he had hoped for.
“It is not a jackpot, no mansion or great acreage,” he said of the insurance refund he recovered.
-30- CNS 04-23-04