The happenings "inside" the Wisconsin State Treasury and across the street at the State Capitol

Archive for October, 2011

October a Record Month at the State Treasury

We had another huge month at the Wisconsin State Treasury and returned $3,740,415 million in unclaimed property in October 2011.

We had one day of returns that topped $1 million and another day where claims examiners returned more than $973,000 to owners. Our goal is get these assets back to the rightful owners as quickly as possible.

 The $3.7 million dollar month is the second highest month of returns in the history of the office.  In November 2010, the office returned $5,185,680.  Last year, the Office returned a record $32.8 million and is working to beat that total in 2011.

We have also started a weekly online event called “The Treasurer’s Top 5”.  I am listing the names of 5 people or businesses in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties who have the highest amount of unclaimed property. You can see these names right here on this blog! Tomorrow, we will have the Top 5 for Jefferson County.

You can search for unclaimed property 24/7/365 at our website,


October eBay Auction Final Numbers

The October eBay auction wrapped up October 30th. 30 of the 31 Lots sold and brought in $21,734.92. The only lot that didn’t sell was a comic book saver – where someone could preserve a valuable comic and display it.

Best selling items – gold rings went for more than $3,000. The silver coinage did very well with the Silver Dimes bringing in $2,550 and the Liberty Half Dollars selling for $2,200.

All of the money returns to the Unclaimed Property fund and will be there ready to be claimed by the owners or their heirs.

The monthly 2011 auctions have brought in close to $200,000 this year. Last year, we brought in $110,409.43, so we have surpassed that record by quite a bit. We actually surpassed it in June.

The November auction will begin just in time for Black Friday and will, hopefully, feature some very nice jewelry pieces. That will depend on what we find in the Safe Deposit boxes we are about to go through starting this week.

State Treasurer Continues Making National Headlines

This morning, I was on Good Morning America putting a $10,000 check into the collection plate at a Neenah Church and now, my efforts to return forgotten cash have made headlines in a national financial magazine, The Fiscal Times.

Daily, I am searching for people in Wisconsin who have no idea the State Treasury is holding their money. I spend hours on the phone trying to find them or their heirs and get them claim forms or I am searching for them using social media. That’s what The Fiscal Times hit on in a piece posted this morning.

These are all great reminders to search for money on our website…and to s arch for your friends, your family, and your church or your favorite businesses! With nearly $400 Million and 1.8 million properties, there could be something out there for you.

Show Me The Money! Returning $10,000 to a church in Neenah!

I appeared on ABC’s Good Morning Americatoday returning nearly $10,000 to the congregation of Trinity Lutheran Church in Neenah. The money was left to the church by a parishioner in the form of US Savings Bonds.

One of our Unclaimed Property examiners had been cataloging the savings bonds we are holding in the State Vault and came across these bonds which totaled $9,9647.40 made out to Trinity Lutheran. After determining that the owner had passed, we went through the process of getting these funds to the church as quickly as possible because they had no idea we were holding them…and probably never would have.

Parishioner Amy Larson bought the bonds in the mid 80’s and early 90’s made them out for the church and left them in a safe deposit box. After she passed away there was no family to claim the box so it was sent to the Office of the State Treasurer.

This summer, my office began the process of creating a database specifically for savings bonds and that is how we came across the bonds for Trinity Lutheran. We are holding more than $350,000 (face value) in savings bonds.  There are more than 3,000 bonds in our vault waiting to be claimed.

When you head to and click on the magnifying glass on the front page you’ll be taken to our main database page.  If you look on the left column, you’ll see another link called “US SAVINGS BONDS”.  Click that and begin your search for savings bonds!

To watch the story from Good Morning America, visit out YouTube Channel –  Also, here’s two links to the previous story we did with Good Morning America where I returned $60,000 to the Wisconsin Humane Society!

Related articles

The Economy and You #13: A Regional Consumer Price Index

In my last article,  I described how the national Consumer Price Index or CPI represents the spending patterns for all goods and services for all urban consumers (denoted as CPI-U) which represents about 87 percent of the total U.S. population.

On a monthly basis the national, or U.S. City Average,  CPI is published including the various components used to calculate the CPI.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also publishes CPI indexes (both CPI-U and CPI-W) for the four census regions: Northeast, Midwest (formerly North Central), South, and West.  Monthly indexes also are published for urban areas classified by population size: all metropolitan areas over 1.5 million, metropolitan areas smaller than 1.5 million, and all non-metropolitan urban areas. Indexes are available as well within each region, cross-classified by area population size. The BLS also publishes indexes for 27 local areas. These indexes are byproducts of the national CPI program.  Each local index has a much smaller sample size than the national or regional indexes and is, therefore, subject to substantially more sampling and other measurement error. As a result, local-area indexes are more volatile than the national or regional indexes.

BLS publishes three major metropolitan areas monthly: 1) Chicago-Gary-Kenosha, IL-IN-WI; 2) Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA; and 3) New York-Northern NJ-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT-PA.

Data are published for another group of 13 metropolitan areas on a semiannual basis. These indexes which use 6-month averages (January-June and July-December) are published with the release of the national CPI for July and January respectively in August and February.  These metropolitan areas that include Anchorage, Alaska and Honolulu, Hawaii, also include two Wisconsin metropolitan regions: Milwaukee-Racine,WIand Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI.

Anyone can receive recorded summaries of CPI data by calling any of the following CPI hotlines:

Milwaukee: 414-276-2579

Minneapolis-St. Paul : 612-725-3580

Chicago: 312-725-1883

If you want to find more information about the CPI, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a website that contains extensive information on the CPI including historical data and explanations of how the data is collected and compiled. Visit

Treasurer’s Top 5: Rock County

Here are the top 5 people/businesses in Rock County who have money/assets that belong to them but they don’t know it! The State Treasurer has been holding unclaimed property since the 1970’s.  Have you searched for your missing cash?

Rock County

JATCO Office Worker Trust – Janesville

Deloris Poh – Clinton

Charles Johnson – Janesville

Kyle Nobles – Beloit

David Heggy – Clinton

If you know these folks or relatives, please let them know they need to make a claim with the office. They can also call us at 877-699-9211!

Legislative update

Yesterday, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed AB 275 (read a previous AB 275 update here), by a unanimous vote of 93-0 (5 absentees, 1 vacant seat). The legislation was received in the Senate today, and should begin proceeding through that body soon. This legislation would enable the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to make Revenue Obligation Loans to municipalities, thus granting an added level flexibility to both municipalities and the BCPL.

Meanwhile, AJR 26, the bill to eliminate the Offices of the Secretary of State and State Treasurer, should be scheduled for a vote before the full Assembly very soon. I will post any updates here.

Wisconsin through the Windshield – Eau Claire, Menomonie, Chippewa Falls, and Superior

Last Friday and Saturday I had the pleasure of returning several thousand dollars to folks in Northwestern Wisconsin. The Northland is particularly beautiful in the fall, and I enjoyed my drive almost as much as I enjoyed returning money.

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If you haven’t already done so, please check our website to see if you have any unclaimed funds.

See you on the road!

50 Plus or Better Expo

I will be at the 50 Plus or Better Expo this Thursday, October 27th from 9am to 2pm at Southridge Mall in Milwaukee with the Unclaimed Property Database.

This is a perfect opportunity to see if the State of Wisconsin is holding your money, make a claim for it and get that money much faster than if you just searched online!

For more information on the event, please click here or check out their Facebook page at by clicking here!

We hope to see you there!


Monthly eBay Auction Begins Sunday

The Monthly State Treasurer’s Office EBay Auction Starts Sunday October 23rd at Noon (central)

 Wisconsin’s Office of the State Treasurer will be holding its next Unclaimed Property eBay auction starting Sunday October 23rd at noon (Central).  This auction will feature 31 lots. Most are from one safety deposit box that contained large amounts of US Proof Sets, Silver Coins and Special Coin Sets. We also have a few lots of jewelry with gold items and diamond rings.

All the items come from abandoned safe deposit boxes that have been unclaimed for 8 years or more.  Bidding starts at 12:00 pm CST, with a different lot going up for sale every minute.

If you are a Wisconsin resident and win an auction, please wait for an invoice. County tax must be added to your purchase.

To view the items, please click HERE.

You can also visit our eBay site directly by clicking HERE. Once the auction starts, items will be listed there and you can quickly bid on them.

(Note: if those links do not work, copy and paste these into your browser: )

Hopefully, Victor is Going To Get a Puppy


I just got off the phone with a very sweet 88-year-old gentleman named Victor.  I called him because he had nearly a quarter of a million dollars in unclaimed property we have been holding for a few years.


The first time I called him I got no answer, not even a machine. Given his age,  I had to consider the possibility that he had passed,  so I searched his last name and randomly called those numbers in search of relatives.  As luck would have it,  I found his nephew on the first try.  He told me Victor was still here and still at the address I had for him.  So I called him again and this time Victor picked up.


We had such a pleasant conversation. He told me that he was being called by private companies wanting to connect him up with his money for a 20% fee (that’s nearly 50,000) and he had told them to forget it.  Good for Victor because unclaimed property claimed directly through the State Treasury by the owner requires NO FEE of any kind.

As we talked, he mentioned some of his health difficulties,  as is to be expected for an 88-year-old.  He also told me that what he really wanted was a puppy, but that his sons who cared for him thought it would be too much for him.  Happily,  I suggested to him that with the kind of money he was going to get from The State Treasury his son’s would probably let him get that puppy to keep him company!

His claim forms are in the mail and I am betting Victor is going to get his wish

Related articles

Just another $1 Million Day at the State Treasury

My staff Unclaimed Property examiners returned $1,044,816.44 today!

This is one of the largest single day returns in State Treasury history.  Just 2 weeks ago, Unclaimed Property Examiners returned $973,773.94 in one day. Most of that belonged to a Milwaukee man.

The biggest amount today went to a business. That claim was for $951,383.10. The other returns to push the total beyond $1,000,000 ranged from $21.00 to $12,000.

In the past 5 years, we have returned $132,858,373.  As of the end of the 3rd quarter 2011, we have returned $24,513,238.

Claims examiners are working diligently to work through as many claims possible daily and return the unclaimed cash to the rightful owners.  Large amounts of cash require extensive investigation by our office as well as the State Attorney General’s office before payouts are made.

Claiming money is as easy at going to, clicking on the magnifying glass on the home page, typing in your last name and first name and hitting “search”. Be sure to follow our blog our Facebook page at and our Twitter page at

The Economy & You #12: Is There an Official Consumer Price Index?

As described in a previous article (What is the CPI), the Consumer Price Index or CPI represents all goods and services purchased for consumption. The CPI reflects spending patterns for one of two population groups: all urban consumers (denoted as CPI-U) and urban wage earners and clerical workers (denoted as CPI-W). The all urban consumer group represents about 87 percent of the totalU.S.population. It is based on the expenditures of almost all residents of urban or metropolitan areas, including professionals, the self-employed, the poor, the unemployed, and retired people, as well as urban wage earners and clerical workers. The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) is based on the expenditures of households included in the CPI-U definition that also meet two requirements: more than one-half of the household’s income must come from clerical or wage occupations, and at least one of the household’s earners must have been employed for at least 37 weeks during the previous 12 months. The CPI-W population represents about 32 percent of the totalU.S.Not included in the CPI are the spending patterns of people living in rural nonmetropolitan areas, farm families, people in the Armed Forces, and those in institutions, such as prisons and mental hospitals.

The CPI represents all goods and services purchased for consumption by the reference population (U or W) The Bureau of Labor Statistics has classified all expenditure items into more than 200 categories, arranged into eight major groups. These major groups are Food & Beverages, Housing, Apparel, Medical Care, Recreation, Education & Communication, and Other Goods and Services. Also included within these major groups are various government-charged user fees, such as water and sewerage charges, auto registration fees, and vehicle tolls. The CPI also includes taxes (such as sales and excise taxes) that are directly associated with the prices of specific goods and services. Income taxes and FICA taxes are not included in CPI calculations because there are not directly associated with the purchase of consumer goods and services. Investment spending is not used either since these expenditures are not considered consumption expenses.

So what is considered as the “official CPI” is the All Items Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the U.S. City Average. In addition to the All Items CPI, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes thousands of other consumer price indexes. One such index is called “All items less food and energy”. Some users of CPI data use this index because food and energy prices can swing up or down unexpectedly (volatility), and these users want to focus on what they perceive to be the “core” or “underlying” rate of inflation.  Also, the media will report CPI data in a variety of ways such as:

  1. 12-month percent change, not seasonally adjusted. (for example, May 2009 to May 2010 = 0.9 percent).
  2. Annual rate of percent change so far this year (for example, from December of the previous year to May of the next year, if the rate of increase over the first 5 months of the year continued for the full year, after the removal of seasonal influences, the rise would be 4.0%).
  3. 1-month percent change on a seasonally adjusted basis. (for example, from April 2008 to May 2008 = 0.6 percent).
  4. Annual rate based on the latest seasonally adjusted 1-month change. For example, if the rate from April 2009 to May 2009 continued for a full 12 months, then the rise, compounded, would be 6.3 percent).

** numbers contained in above example are for description purposes only and not intended to be accurate **

So when people talk about the national Consumer Price Index, they are talking about the All Items Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, or the CPI-U. In my next article, I will discuss how the CPI-U is different depending on where you live.

Treasurer’s Top 5 – Walworth County

Do you know anyone in Walworth County? Do you live there now or have you ever lived there? Do you know any of the Treasurer’s Top 5? We are holding their money right now! How much money are we talking about for these 5 people? $173,115.01! The amounts range from $16,000 to $76,000.

Treasurer’s Top 5 – Walworth County

George Kowalski – Williams Bay

Arturo Sapida – Lake Geneva

Rose Shannon – Whitewater

Miroslaw Cholewicki – Lake Geneva

Gregory Tomera – Lake Geneva

Have you searched for your unclaimed cash? – 24/7, 365 days year!

Facebook, Twitter finds Northern Wisconsin Woman with $225,000 of Unclaimed Property

I used my own Facebook page as well as my Twitter account over the past few months to track down a woman in Boyd that has nearly $225,000 sitting at the Wisconsin State Treasury.

The search actually began in July at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair. I was helping people search for their money in Chippewa Falls.  Someone searching found their friend and when I learned it was such a large amount of money I began trying to track that person down. With no current phone number and information,  I posted a status update on my Facebook account and Tweeted that I needed help finding this person.

A few hours later, someone who follows me on Facebook sent me a private message saying he knew the Unclaimed Property owner’s daughter.  He linked us up on Facebook and after several emails and a few phone calls, claim forms were sent out to the current address and she is in the process of claiming her cash.

I will be returning to the Chippewa Falls area later this week to help even more people find their missing money. Below is my schedule.

You can follow me at and

Unclaimed Property Tour


Friday Oct. 21, 2011


L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library

400 Eau Claire St.

Eau Claire, WI 54701



Menomonie Public Library

600 Wolske Bay Rd

Menomonie, WI 54751



Chippewa Falls Public Library

105 West Central St.

Chippewa Falls, WI 54729







Saturday Oct. 22, 2011


Superior Public Library

1530 Tower Ave

Superior, WI 54880


Bipartisan participation at Heartland Institute’s Emerging Issues Forum

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the Heartland Institute’s Emerging Issues Forum in Chicago. I was joined by many other elected officials from a whole host of states, with some even travelling from as far away as Hawaii. Wisconsinwas well represented on both sides of the aisle at Thursday’s forum; in addition to me, there were 2 Republican representatives and 2 Democratic representatives, as well as Senator Frank Lasee, who was both an attendee and a presenter.

The forum featured presentations on our energy policy, tax policy, education policy, and issues involving governing on both the local and national level. The Heartland Institute is a libertarian/conservative think tank, but the presentations spared neither major political party from criticism. The current administration was criticized for its spending policies, while past Republican administrations were admonished for their massive expansion of the farm subsidy program.

 The conference’s general theme was that subsidies in general, including oil and gas, as well as green energy, were counterproductive to a fair and free marketplace.

Entitlement programs were also discussed. President Clinton’s welfare reform, which distributed block grants to states came in for high praise, and was suggested as a model for other entitlement programs.

I would encourage you to go to the Heartland Institute website and explore the wealth of information there. No matter which side of the political aisle you’re on, their page is worth a read.

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AJR 26 update

Yesterday, AJR 26 – the constitutional amendment that would eliminate the Offices of the State Treasurer and Secretary of State – was referred to the Committee on Rules in the Assembly. From there, the bill will be scheduled for a vote before the full Assembly. It’s quite possible that AJR 26 could be upfor a vote in the next 2-3 weeks.

The Economy and You #11: What is the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

The CPI, or Consumer Price Index, is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. The CPI affects nearly all Americans because of the many ways it is used.

The CPI is used in three main ways:

1) as an economic indicator

2) as a means of adjusting dollar values

3) as an economic series deflator. 

Many people consider the CPI to be a cost of living index and it is often used as such.  Still, there are important differences from a complete cost of living measure.  First and most importantly, the CPI measures a specific number or “basket” of goods and services.  The CPI does NOT track the prices of all goods and services.  Second, the CPI only reflects price changes that occur directly in the marketplace and does not account for public factors that can affect a consumer’s well-being.

So why do we use the consumer price index to measure inflation? The main reason is because the CPI helps to demonstrate consumer spending patterns.  The market basket that is used to determine the CPI is based on detailed spending information provided by families and individuals on what things they actually bought.  Thousands of families and individuals from across the country are asked to keep diaries of all of the spending for a two week period.  These diaries and additional interviews help to determine importance, or weight, of specific items and categories (there are over 200) used to calculate the CPI. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gathers prices from thousands of retail stores, service establishments, doctors’ offices, etc. from all over the country to track and measure the prices of thousands of goods and services.  The prices of about 80,000 items are collected each month and used as a sample of the prices paid by consumers for all of the goods and services purchased in the economy.  The data are reviewed for accuracy and consistency and then the data can be utilized on a regional or large metropolitan basis.

Still there are a number of indexes that can be used to measure different aspects of inflation besides CPI.  The CPI is used to measure inflation as experienced by consumers in their day to day spending.  The Producer Price Index (PPI) measures overall price changes in the early stages of production. The Employment Cost Index (ECI) measures inflation in the labor market.  The BLS International Price Program measures for price changes in imports and exports. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Deflator measures inflation among consumers, governments and other institutions providing goods and services to consumers.  So the best measure of inflation depends on the specific use of the data.  CPI is just one measure used to measure price changes on those things we buy every day.

Treasurer’s Top 5 – Kenosha County

Last week, we started the Treasurer’s Top 5 – the top 5 people or businesses in each Wisconsin County that have the most unclaimed property.

Today, we offer the names of 5 people in Kenosha. If you know them, tell them to check our website and make a claim for their money – because these 5 folks have a lot of it and it’s just sitting here!

We have listed the city they live in next to their names (or the city they last lived in when the assets were turned over to our office)


Victor Naydihor (Kenosha)

Woodruff S. Kelly (Bristol)

Eileen Newman (Kenosha)

Frances & Defforrest Waller (Kenosha)

Susan A. Kelsall (Kenosha)

Making a claim is easy! Just visit and click on the magnifying glass on the home page.  Fill out the information, follow the instructions and look in the mail for your check!

AB 275 update

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about AB 275, a bill that would allow the BCPL to make revenue obligation loans in certain circumstances, in addition to the general obligation loans that the Board currently makes.

I’m happy to announce that the bill passed by the Urban and Local Affairs Committee on a 9-0 vote. The bill’s next step is the Assembly.

Click here to read more about AB 275.

Click here to view the post that contains my testimony on the bill.

Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation

Meeting folks at the WWBIC

I had the pleasure of meeting with the folks who run the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation last week  in Milwaukee. The WWBIC’s  goals are central to creating a favorable business climate here in Wisconsin for entrepreneurs – providing business education and financing to those who make this country run: small business owners.

The WWBIC doesn’t just offer loans to “microenterprises” and send those entrepreneurs on their way. They want to give small business owners all the tools necessary to keep their businesses  open and thriving in order to grow larger and become more successful. The WWBIC offers educational workshops and seminars aimed at not only teaching the necessary skills but to also motivate owners.  In 2010, WWBIC hosted 425 educational seminars! Financial literacy is key to not only being a successful business owner, but keeping yourself and your family afloat on these tough economic times.

Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative

Don’t let the name fool you either, the WWBIC isn’t just for female start-ups. They want to empower all small business owners, but they do try to focus their emphasis on women, people of color, and people of lower wealth and incomes.

I urge you to visit their website – the link is above or right here.  Learn more about their initiatives and see if they can help you achieve your dream of starting a successful business here in Wisconsin. They are holding an educational seminar tomorrow from 12:00pm to 1:00pm at the Sun Prairie Library on Internet Marketing.  If interested in attending, be sure to RSVP quickly!

Bayfield Apple Festival 2011

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The Unclaimed Property Unit is helping people in Bayfield find their money…if we are holding it! The Apple Festival is a major event for Northern Wisconsin as 50,000 people converge in Bayfield – a town with a population of 611!

The Apple Festival just started and we have been seeing a steady amount of people come and check for themselves or their relatives. We are also helping folks from Minnesota who are here – they can search at!

We got lucky for this trip in October – it’s almost 75 degrees out right now and the wind from Lake Superior is minimal…we are outside, which is great. Most of the time, normally at the fairs, we are inside for events and rarely see the light of day.

If you aren’t coming up to Bayfield for the festival, make sure to check for your money at

Treasurer’s Top 5 – Racine County

Today we kick off The Treasurer’s Top 5!

Once a week, we will list the names of the 5 people or businesses in each Wisconsin County that has the most unclaimed property. We will list the city they live in next to their names (or the city they last lived in when the assets were turned over to our office)

Hopefully, they’ll see it and make the claim or if you know them, let them know they can make the claim!


Joan C. Gengozian (Racine)

Douglas W. Ackerley (Racine)

Henry A. Bretschneider (Racine)

John C. Dawson (Racine)

Brown Cab Service, Inc. (Burlington)

Making a claim is easy! Just visit and click on the magnifying glass on the home page.  Fill out the information, follow the instructions and look in the mail for your check!


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