One Politician Calls What CBS4 Investigation Uncovered 'Shady'By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado’s state-managed unclaimed property website, also known as The Great Colorado Payback, blocked nearly 100 Coloradans’ names from being searched for an undetermined amount of time. The list of names blocked ranges from John Elway to former Gov. Bill Ritter and Gov. Bill Owens and dozens of current and former state legislators, according to a CBS4 Investigation.

That means all those Coloradans, who might have had unclaimed money or property held by the state treasury as part of the unclaimed property program, would not have been able to find their money or property, since the state website incorrectly returned no results when their names were entered into the database.

Dave Young, the current Colorado Treasurer, told CBS4, “I think it is a bit surprising and we are working to understand why this happened.”

(credit: CBS)

Young said since he took office in January 2019, neither he nor his staff have blocked any search terms or names on the website. In fact since it came to his attention, Young said he has instructed the website vendor to “unblock” nearly 300 search terms.

“Certainly if a term is blocked, that’s going to affect someone’s ability to search,” Young said. “There may very well be property being held by the state treasury, but the website is saying you have no property here, and that’s a wrong conclusion.”

CBS4 obtained the list of 281 names and terms that had been blocked from showing up in searches of the website. They included past and present state lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, along with businessman Pete Coors, former state treasurer Mike Coffman (who is currently Aurora’s mayor), former Sen. Cory Gardner along with the Denver Post, King Soopers, Walmart and Taco Bell.

“We still have to have a deeper understanding of how these terms were blocked inside of the vendor’s software,” Young said.

Young says he has instructed his staff to contact employees from previous administrations to see who might have sought to have the names blocked and when it occurred. Young said he simply did not know yet what happened or why.

“We’re trying to figure this out,” Young said.

Among the names on the list of blocked search terms was Frank McNulty, a Republican, who served in the legislature from 2006 through 2012, and was Speaker of the Colorado House beginning in 2010.

McNulty said he didn’t think he had ever searched the site until being contacted by CBS4, but said “I am curious to know why my name and others were blocked from being able to search for money that is rightly ours.”

Since his name is now searchable, the website shows at least two entries McNulty indicated were his unclaimed money.

“It’s not the dollar amount that matters, it’s the principal that somebody in state government blocked me from being able to search for money that’s owed to me. That’s a real problem,” McNulty said. “I’m not happy about it.”

McNulty believes the blocking was intentional.

“It’s totally shady,” McNulty said. “Somebody did something purposefully to harm their fellow Coloradans. There needs to be an investigation of what happened here, and the people who did this need to have an appropriate explanation for why they blocked our names, or be accountable for what they did, because I suspect what they did wasn’t right.”

Ron Lizzi, who lives in Connecticut, scours state payback websites as something of a hobby.

“That’s the people’s money and they can’t get it,” said Lizzi.

He tells CBS4 he noticed numerous terms like “school,” “college,” and other common terms seemed to be blocked on the Colorado website and were not returning any results.

“The state is hiding thousands of properties that are probably worth over a million, potentially millions of dollars and the owners can’t find them,” said Lizzi. “This is one way people get tricked. They believe the state is wanting to return properties, they trust the website, but they shouldn’t.”

Coffman, who served as Colorado’s treasurer from 1998 to 2005, said he was shocked to learn his name had been blocked on the website.

“I don’t have any idea why it would be blocked,” said Coffman. “The entire purpose of the website is to give the public access to their information.”

He said he can’t imagine a “credible explanation” for why so many names and terms were blocked. Coffman told CBS4 when he was state treasurer, no names or terms were blocked.

Young, the current state treasurer, said he was uncertain how long it would take to determine what had happened. But he encouraged Coloradans to search the website Great Colorado Payback to see if they have unclaimed money or property.

McNulty wants to see a more formal investigation launched by the Denver district attorney and the state legislature’s audit committee.

“I do suspect this is unethical and possibly illegal,” offered McNulty. “Blocking people from searching a state database that is open to everyone. That has to have consequences.”

Additional Resources

Here is the list CBS4 obtained of names and terms that cannot be searched on the website:

bank
chamber
HEALTH
HUD
AUDITOR
BUREAU
CITY AND
CLERK &
CLERK AND
CLERK OF
COLLEGE
COUNTY
DENVER POST
FEDERAL
MEDICARE
PUBLIC
REVENUE
SCHOOL
STATE OF
STATE OF
WIRELESS
&AIR FORCE
1ST NAT
1ST TRU
1ST UN
A T & T
AGG
AIR TOUCH
AIRLINE
AIRTOUCH
ALBERTSONS
ALLSTATE INS
ARMED FORCES
AT&T
AT&T BROADBAND
BACON BOB
BALMER DAVID
BANK OF
BANK ONE
BANK WEST
BELL AT
BENEFIELD DEBBIE
BEST BUY
BLUE CROSS
BOARD OF
BORODKIN ALICE
BOY SCOUT
BOYD BETTY
BROPHY GREG
BRUCE DOUGLAS
BUESCHER BERNIE
BURGER KING
BUTCHER DOROTHY
CADMAN BILL
CARROLL MORGAN
CARROLL TERRANCE
CASSO EDWARD
CERBO MIKE
CHECKS
CHRYSLER
CITIBANK
CITICORP
CITY &
city and
CITY MARKET
CITY OF
COFFMAN MICHAEL
COFFMAN MIKE
colo dep
COLO DIV
COLO NATIONAL
COLO STATE
COLORADO COMPENSATION
Colorado Dep
Colorado div
COLORADO NAT
COLORADO STATE
COMP USA
COMPUSA
COMPUTER CITY
CONAGRA
COORS BREWING
COORS PETER
CORPORATE EXPRESS
COSTCO
CURRY KATHLEEN
DAVIDSON DONETTA
DENVER & RIO
DEPARTMENT
DEPT OF
DIST COURT
DISTRICT
DIV OF
DIVISION OF
ELEMENTARY
ELWAY JOHN
EMBASSY
FEDERAL SAVINGS
FERRANDINO MARK
FIRST AMERICAN
FIRST BANK
FIRST CAP
FIRST DATA
FIRST FED
FIRST INT
FIRST NAT
FIRST SAV
FIRST TRU
FISCHER RANDY
FITZ-GERALD JOAN
FRANGAS K JERRY
GAGLIARDI SARA
GALLEGOS RAFAEL
GARCIA MICHAEL
GARDNER BOB
GARDNER CORY
GIBBS DAN
GIRL SCOUT
GORDON KEN
GOVERN
GREAT WEST LIFE
GREEN GWYN
GROFF PETER
GUARANTEE &
GUARANTEE AND
HAGEDORN BOB
HARVEY TED
HICKS STELLA
HIGH SCHOOL
HODGE MARY
HOSPITAL
HOUSING AUTHORITY
ISGAR JIM
JAHN CHERI
JOHNS MANVILLE
JOHNSON STEVE
JUDD JOEL
JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT
KEFALAS JOHN
KELLER MARYANNE
KELLER MARYANNE
KERR ANDREW
KERR JAMES
KESTER KEN
KING SOOPERS
KING STEVE
K-MART
KMART C
KOPP MIKE
LABUDA JEANNE
LAMBERT KENT
LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS
LEVY CLAIRE
LINCOLN TR
LISTON LARRY
LOOPER MARSHA
LUNDBERG KEVIN
M L P F S
MADDEN ALICE
MAROSTICA DON
MARRIOT COR
MARRIOTT COR
MASTER CARD
MASTER CHARGE
MASTERCARD
MASTERCHARGE
MCELHANY ANDREW
MCFADYEN LIANE
MCGIHON ANNE
MCNULTY FRANK
MEDICAID
MEDICAL
MEDICINE
MELLON BANK
MELLON FIN
MELLON M
MERRIFIELD MICHAEL
MERRILL LYNCH
METRO CHAMBER
MICROSOFT
MITCHELL SHAWN
MITCHELL VICTOR
NATIONAL BANK
NORWEST
NOVELL
OAG
OPPENHEIMER
ORTHOPAEDIC
ORTHOPEDIC
OWENS BILL
OWENS WILLIAM
PAYLESS
PENISTON CHERYLIN
PENRY JOSHUA
PIZZA HUT
POMMER JACK
POSTAL
POSTMASTER
PRIMAVERA DIANNE
PRINCIPAL FIN
PRINCIPAL LIFE
PRINCIPAL LIFE INSURANCE
PRINCIPAL MUT
PUBLIC EMPLOYEE
PUBLIC SERVICE
PUBLIC UTILITIES
QWEST C
QWEST D
QWEST
RADIO SHACK
RADISSON
RAMADA
RENFROE SCOTT
RESOURCES TR
RICHMOND H
RIESBERG JIM
RITTER BILL
ROMANOFF ANDREW
ROMER CHRIS
RYLAND H
SAFEWAY
SALAZAR KEN
SALVATION A
SCHULTHEIS DAVID
SCHWARTZ GAIL
SEARS
SECRETARY
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE
SHAFFER BRANDON
SHERRIFF
SOLANO JUDY
SONNENBERG JERRY
SOUND TRACK
SOUNDTRACK
SPENCE NANCY
STATE BAR
STATE BOARD
STATE FARM
STATE SEC
STATE STREET
STATE TAX
STORAGE TEK
STORAGETEK
STUDENT LOAN
SUMMERS KEN
SUTHERS JOHN
SWALM SPENCER
TACO BELL
TAKIS STEPHANIE
TAPIA ABEL
TO THE ESTATE
TOCHTROP LOIS
TOWN OF
TREASURER
TREASURY
TRUSTEE OF
TUPA RON
U S
U.S.
U-HAUL
UNITED STATES
united
UNIV OF COLORADO
UNIVERSITY OF
UNK
US &
US WEST
USBANK
USWEST
VAAD GLENN
VEIGA JENNIFER
VERIZON
WACHOVIA
WALMART
WAL-MART
WASTE M
WEISSMANN PAUL
WELLS FARGO
WIENS TOM
WINDELS SUE
WITWER ROBERT

Brian Maass