Mean-spirited or effective, Ducey’s #deadbeat ‘losers’ campaign begins
The #deadbeat campaign is up and running, hours after Gov. Doug Ducey unveiled the social-media shaming tactic in his State of the State address.
The Department of Economic Security began tweeting pictures, photos and details of parents who are delinquent on child-support payments, but the campaign was met with mixed reviews. Some raved about it while others called it mean-spirited and questioned whether publicly shaming them would be effective.
DES is required by state law to post information about some of the parents on their website, which includes men and women who owe more than $5,000 in child support, have a warrant issued for their arrest, have not made payments for six months, and whose location is unknown.
The first person featured by @ArizonaDES was a man who owes $170,993 in child support.
Based on his experience, family law attorney Douglas Gardner said the campaign will get some parents to pay up, but will do nothing to motivate others. He represents both parents who haven’t paid what they owe and parents seeking payments.
“Public shaming is something that’s always been effective to certain types of people,” Gardner said, but “some people just don’t care what people think.
“I’m sure many of them aren’t going to like this,” he continued. “Those that have an ability to pay may be inclined to pay quickly” to avoid being embarrassed on Twitter.
Gardner added that many of the child-support cases are complex and don’t always involve people who don’t want to pay. Some parents, for example, are ordered to pay child support, but have lost jobs or were injured “and then they go through a financial struggle for four, five or six months and they’ve had serious medical issues that decrease their income and increase their medical expenses at the same time. There’s legitimate times that despite a court order, someone can’t pay child support a few times.”
Ducey’s staffers stressed the campaign is intended to “bring awareness and accountability about people who haven’t taken care of their kids” and said the only mean-spirited thing about it is that these are people who have abandoned their obligations.
Families, they said, are looking for whatever help they can get.
Daniel Ruiz, Ducey’s spokesman, said the campaign includes men and women. And, putting the information on Twitter amplifies the message, the governor’s staff says.