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Lawmakers' frustration with Revenue department explodes

In this screenshot taken from House Communications video, Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, speaks to reporters during a press conference Thursday, April 11, 2013, about the Department of Revenue's handling of Missourians' personal information. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (left) stands next to Jones. See the bottom of the accompanying article to view the video.

In this screenshot taken from House Communications video, Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, speaks to reporters during a press conference Thursday, April 11, 2013, about the Department of Revenue's handling of Missourians' personal information. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (left) stands next to Jones. See the bottom of the accompanying article to view the video.

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, wants Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to appoint an independent investigative committee to look into the state Revenue department’s handling of Missourians’ personal information.

Lawmakers have accused the department of copying and storing information from birth certificates, concealed weapons permits and other application forms in violation of state law, then violating more laws by giving that information to federal agencies.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said it’s clear the department is “at a minimum, incompetent, and at the most, intentionally violating the law.”

Schaefer said there no longer is any issue: Revenue officials have lied about what they’ve been doing.

He said Gov. Jay Nixon and his staff should consider firing some people, because “there is serious question about the ability of certain persons to carry out their jobs in a reliable and reasonable way.”

At his separate news conference Thursday afternoon, in front of the doors to the attorney general’s office in the Supreme Court Building, Jones noted: “The further we dug into this issue, the more complicated it’s become and the more questions have arose, rather than answers.”

He accused the Revenue department bureaucrats of “providing misinformation, disinformation and anything but what we’re trying to, simply, find here — the truth and a solution to this crisis.”

Jones authorized state Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, to investigate the Revenue department through the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee.

“If necessary, I will grant him any requested, and necessary, subpoena powers.”

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder noted Nixon just a week ago “misled Missourians. ... We’ve had four weeks of misleading from this administration and from the governor — when are we going to get some answers?”

The Legislature’s Republican leaders all said the probe is about upholding state laws, not about partisan politics.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, told reporters: “People can make up their own minds. I think the information speaks for itself, when the department says they’re not doing something ... and then there’s irrefutable evidence that they are.

“There’s whether people care about the policy, whether people care about honesty.”

No one from the governor’s office or the Revenue department was available to comment for this story.

Video

Mo. House Speaker Tim Jones press conference

Accompanying video: http://youtu.be/R9fWYNaj5zM

Earlier coverage:

Mo. patrol gave feds list of concealed gun holders

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