Luetkemeyer: Records request unusual but legal
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
No law was violated when the Social Security Administration asked the Missouri Highway Patrol for state concealed-carry license information, and received it — even though things didn’t follow “normal” procedures, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer told reporters Monday.
But the federal agency backtracked later Monday morning on information it had given state officials last week, that its investigators had seen the names of Missouri concealed weapons permit-holders.
And Monday afternoon, Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, asked new, acting Revenue Director John Mollenkamp to “cease and desist scanning and retaining personal documents of all Missouri citizens.”
Critics say the practice helped the Revenue department
violate state law by storing information from birth certificates and other documents — and potentially sharing them with federal agencies.
Highway Patrol Superintendent Ron Replogle said last week the Social Security agency was given two different discs containing information an investigator had requested, but that the investigator wasn’t able to read either one.
The agency’s inspector general said last week the second disc was opened and read. And Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, told reporters Monday the inspector general told him the disc was destroyed when officials “realized the information was not what they wanted.”
In a Monday email to the Associated Press, the assistant inspector general for External Relations wrote: “This office twice received disks containing data identifying Missouri concealed carry permit-holders, we were never successful in opening the files or viewing this data ... we regret any confusion our earlier statement might have caused.”
The reversal left Luetkemeyer “absolutely furious that the SSA would put out false information like this,” he said in a mid-afternoon statement. “They are an investigatory body and should know better than to provide information unless it is verified.
“I am now more determined than ever to meet with the SSA (inspector general) in person and get to the bottom of this. This just can’t happen.”
The congressman said the agency told him their investigator was looking for “the possibility of fraud with mental health disability benefits.”
Missourians who apply for a concealed weapons permit must check a box saying they’re mentally fit to possess and use a weapon.
But if they checked “Yes” while taking Social Security’s mental health disability assistance, Luetkemeyer said, the agency reasoned that would automatically disqualify them for benefits.
Luetkemeyer said, and Replogle agreed, the federal request for the records would have worked better if Social Security had provided a list of people receiving the mental health disability benefits in Missouri — and asked the state to see if any of those people also had concealed weapons permits.
“He was very open, from the standpoint that, number one, what they did was legal,” Luetkemeyer said after talking to the Social Security inspector general in Kansas City.
Missouri law says the names of concealed weapons permit-holders are closed records, although those names are shared with the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement reporting System, or MULES.
Luetkemeyer and Replogle agreed the Social Security investigators qualify as law enforcement officials entitled to the otherwise private information.
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