Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s campaign for state controller makes frequent reference to her financial acumen as a reason for voters to elect her to the office.
She takes credit, for example, for leading Fresno out of its near-default status of just a few years ago to a much healthier balance sheet today.
Swearengin, a Republican, cites her executive experience as mayor as another reason why voters should choose her over Democrat Betty Yee.
Yet Swearengin has apparently lost track of money owed her and which is now sitting as unclaimed property in a state fund overseen by the controller.
Never miss a local story.
As part of its duties, the controller’s office manages unclaimed property — assets such as payments, bank accounts and the like whose owners cannot be located. According to the blog Calnewsroom.com, there is currently $6.9 billion in unclaimed assets in that fund.
Of that, $16.88 belongs to Swearengin in the form of two expense checks made out to her from when she worked at Fresno State.
Tim Clark, a campaign consultant for Swearengin, had not yet seen the blog post when he was contacted Friday. But once it was explained to him, he said that “Calnewsroom and the writer are Betty Yee supporters, so their job is to write stories that have zero relevance.”
Voters should instead focus on how Swearengin helped turn around Fresno’s finances, Clark said.
“This is why voters don’t vote; we’re not talking substantial issues here,” Clark said. “$16 in unclaimed property — who cares?”