FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT/WYMT) - Treasury Secretary Todd Hollenbach has been on a mission for a while now, to get back something you probably didn't know you had.
"200 million is a lot of money, I mean a whole lot of money," Hollenbach said.
That's how much, in federal savings bonds, is estimated to be sitting with the federal government.
"We want to look at the books and find out who else in Kentucky has money," Hollenbach said. "And we can return it to them."
But doing that has proved tricky. "In large part because we don't have standing. We're not the owners of the bonds. And we're not the federal government and it's kind of a contract between the federal government and the bond holders when these bonds were purchased."
Hollenbach says what they need are names from the federal government of the people in Kentucky with bonds waiting on them. Problem is, they can't get to the names. Hollenbach says he's tried several approaches, from lawsuits to federal legislation, all unsuccessful.
So now, they are taking a back door approach. They have about 1800 savings bonds in their vault at the Treasurer's office with names of owners on them. They typically get them from banks that haven't heard from the bond owners in more than three years. The state treasurer's team works to get the bonds back to their owners. If they can't find the owners, they go to the state's general fund.
But Hollenbach says to get to the 200 million, he needs to strengthen Kentucky laws before tackling federal rules.
"That's what we're doing now, we are working to try to get some house cleaning legislation to make it iron clad that we are the owners of the bonds in our possession. And then we'll leverage that hopefully to get to the rest of them so we can get that money returned to the people of Kentucky," he said. "We just want them to get what's theirs."