Deadbeat dads in Arizona, beware. Your mug could be plastered all over social media for the world to see.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey this week launched a campaign to crack down on "the worst of the worst" parents who are ignoring child support payments, posting their names and photos to Twitter and Facebook. The hope is that the public shaming will make some of them pay up and give other dads (and moms) second thoughts about evading child support.
Ducey, a father of three, called out "deadbeat dads" in his State of the Union address on Monday, saying he was troubled by the high number of vulnerable children in Arizona.
"For too long, you've been able to remain anonymous — able to skirt your financial and legal responsibilities with no shame. Not anymore," the governor proclaimed. Effective immediately, he said, the state would begin posting the photos, names and money owed by "these losers" to social media, with the hashtag #deadbeat.
"It's simple. If you're old enough to father a child, then you're old enough to accept financial responsibility for that child. If you don't want your embarrassing — unlawful — and irresponsible behavior going viral: Man up, and pay up," the Republican governor said.
The governor said the shaming campaign is targeting 421 deadbeats in the state (34 of whom are women) who collectively owe $20 million. "These deadbeats are the worst of the worst," he tweeted on Wednesday.
People making it on the list owe more than $5,000, have a warrant issued for their arrest, have missed child support payments for at least 6 months, and their location is unknown.
"The non-paying parents included in this Child Support Evader list do not represent those with the highest amounts owed or the most egregious circumstances," Tasya Peterson, a spokesperson for the state Department of Economic Security, told NBC News. "Rather, they are featured to enlist the help of the general public in locating these parents so DCSS (Division of Child Support Services) can continue its efforts to collect child support on behalf of Arizona families."
Arizona Fathers' Rights, a volunteer group supporting parents and family members involved in custody battles and other family law litigation, blasted the governor's move as "a cheap publicity stunt."
"The fact is well-known that the vast majority of people labeled as 'Deadbeats' are simply Dead-broke," David Hamu, the group's chairman of the board, said in a statement to NBC News. "Moreover, this sort of gender bias would result in a typhoon of outrage if women were being singled out and it is truly awful that Gov. Ducey doesn't acknowledge that there are mothers who are obligors who should also be targeted during any crackdown."