List was sent out two times.
JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri's database of concealed weapon permits was twice given to federal authorities investigating Social Security disability fraud in a move that has enraged lawmakers already angry over potential abuses in a new driver's licensing system.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Col. Ron Replogle was questioned for nearly an hour this morning by the Senate Appropriations Committee after he revealed to Chairman Kurt Schaefer yesterday that his agency had turned over the data.
The delivery of the information to federal authorities has become a huge issue for lawmakers since they began raising questions about new driver's licensing procedures. A lawsuit from Stoddard County challenged the procedures that require all supporting documents — including certificates granting concealed weapon privileges — to be scanned and retained.
In November 2011 and again in January, Replogle said, an agent of the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General received discs with the data. Each time, the agent was unable to read the encryption format and destroyed the discs, Replogle said.
"They said no names were retrieved," Replogle told the committee this morning. "They do not have those names. They did not disseminate that information, and all that information has been destroyed. We have asked for that documentation of what has happened."
The data was turned over because the Office of Inspector General is a law enforcement agency, Replogle said. It was done by a mid-level supervisor at the patrol. Replogle said he was not informed of the transfer until four weeks ago.
The intention was to cross-check the names on the concealed carry list with the agency's list of those with disabilities attributed to mental illness to find possible evidence of fraud in the system.
New procedures are being put in place to make sure a similar data release does not happen again without his approval, Replogle said.
Lawmakers also have been frustrated by what they view as an attempt by department officials to obscure the facts as much as possible. Replogle promised he would be open, and he answered each question directly.
"I am here to give you full disclosure, and I know a lot more than I did at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon," he said.
The frustration level rose again when Andrea Spillars, deputy director of the Department of Public Safety, arrived to explain why she thought what the patrol did was legal and could be done again for federal law enforcement officials.
"Under state statutes the legislature passed, it is a lawful, permissible disclosure," she said.
State law bars the Department of Revenue from implementing the federal Real ID Act. The procedures adopted for Missouri licenses mirror Real ID Act requirements. State law also mandates that concealed weapons permit data is confidential.
Gov. Jay Nixon has denied that concealed weapons permits were turned over to a "magical database" for federal agents to "mess with" Missourians. The requests from Social Security were revealed yesterday in an appropriations committee hearing, and Replogle gave incomplete information to Schaefer yesterday.
"There is nothing magical about the name Real ID," Schaefer said after this morning's hearing. "It is the things that go along with it, the giving up of personal data, the subjecting yourself to identity theft without any due process of law before that information is given up."
For weeks, he said, the department has denied it was implementing Real ID or turning over concealed weapons permit information.
"What we now know is we were lied to about the process, how it is implemented, how it is funded, and we were lied to about the fact that the Department of Motor Vehicles or the state of Missouri did or did not give out a list of concealed carry holders to the federal government," Schaefer said.
The delay for several weeks between Replogle being informed and him revealing the information and investigating how it happened also angered the committee. "How are we supposed to know to ask if no one indicates you are involved?" Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, asked. "For four weeks you knew this was going on, and you let us chase the rabbit trails at the Department of Revenue."
Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, asked the questions during a hearing yesterday that revealed that federal requests for data on concealed weapons had been honored. When he was told today that no one in particular was a target of the federal investigation of potential disability fraud, he said it was difficult to believe. "I am stunned by that," Schaaf said.
This article was published in the Thursday, April 11, 2013 edition of the Columbia Daily Tribune with the headline "Patrol gave feds data on gun permits: List was sent out two times."