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Nixon’s staff told Homeland Security of Missouri document-scanning plan

By   /   April 10, 2013  /   4 Comments

NIXON: His former revenue department director told federal officials Missouri would begin document-scanning this year.

NIXON: His former revenue department director told federal officials Missouri would begin document-scanning this year.

By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog

ST. LOUIS – A Missouri senator’s staff dug through reams of Department of Revenue correspondence to unearth this gem: Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration told federal officials of a plan to scan residents’ documents at license offices three months before a surprised public discovered the sudden policy change.

The DOR delivered dozens of boxes of emails to Sen. Kurt Schaefer’s office last week after the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee subpoenaed the department for records pertaining to its new policy of collecting the information of applicants for driver’s licenses and concealed carry permits.

Controversy ignited in March when it came to light that the DOR had directed license office clerks to scan residents’ personal documents instead of only reviewing them, as state law requires. The digital data is being sent to a state database.

Missouri Watchdog was the first media outlet to report that the use of the equipment by third-party vendor MorphoTrust USA was widespread across the Show-Me State.

Nixon recently told reporters his administration was not “collecting a bunch of unuseful data to send to some sort of magical database someplace to mess with people.”

He has denied attempting to comply with the REAL ID act, a 2005 initiative attempting to impose universal technological standards and verification procedures in each state to create a de facto national ID card.

But one of the documents Schaeffer released Tuesday, a Dec. 12 letter from former DOR director Alana Barragan-Scott to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, documents Missouri’s progress toward complying with Real ID provisions.

“Missouri’s security standards for the issuance of driver licenses and identification cards are comparable to or exceed the substantive security standards of the federal REAL ID Act,” Barragan-Scott wrote.

The letter noted Missouri’s plan to retain digital images of source documents and a database of all information on residents’ driver’s

MO LICENSE: Will the state have to comply with the federal Real ID to keep residents flying the friendly skies? It’s unclear.

licenses or state ID cards along with a checklist of the areas in which Missouri fell in line with REAL ID requirements.

DHS said only 19 states have met Real ID requirements as of Feb. 25. Holders of licenses from states that don’t meet the standards of the law pushed by congressional Republicans and signed by President Bush could be barred from boarding airplanes or entering federal facilities.

Missouri’s lawmakers passed a bill in 2009  which was signed into law by Nixon  opting the state out of compliance due to privacy concerns.

Current DOR Director Brian Long told the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee in March that his department is trying to detect and stop fraud with its new scanning practices, and that the information is not shared with the federal government.

That point was re-iterated in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Trevor Bossert, general counsel for the revenue department, told lawmakers he advised against publicly publishing a rule change in part because it would create an “administrative burden.”

“You should have told the public,” Schaeffer told DOR officials at that hearing.

Revenue department spokesman Ted Farnen said in an email to the Associated Press on Tuesday that the agency “has not been, is not now, and does not intend to comply with Real ID” and that Barragan-Scott’s letter simply underscores the state’s commitment to issuing secure IDs.

Schaeffer’s now pushing state auditor Thomas Schweich to investigate the license fee offices.

In a letter to the senator Wednesday, Schweich said he had already planned to audit five license offices in 2013, as well as follow-up on issues that arose during audits of other license offices last year.

“We will make it a priority during these audits to investigate concerns related to scanning source documents,” Schweich wrote.

The Nixon administration’s denial has put conservative groups on the offensive. Carl Bearden, director of United for Missouri, recently started a website he calls Wrong Way Jay, which is highly critical of the Democratic governor and asks Missouri residents to share their stories from license offices.

“It’s time for Governor Nixon to take this issue seriously,” Bearden said. “He should step up and take responsibility for the department’s actions, assure Missourians he will get the answers and support a full and comprehensive audit of DOR.”

Schaeffer noted that the Senate is now in the budgeting process, giving the legislature a powerful card as it seeks answers from the revenue department.

“It would be irresponsible of us to give the Department of Revenue more of the people’s tax money to carry out these same activities of sharing private documents with outside entities without telling taxpayers,” he said.

The Senate on Wednesday gave first-round approval to a bill that would stop license offices from scanning personal documents.

Contact Johnny Kampis at johnny@missouriwatchdog.org.  For more Missouri Watchdog updates, visit Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for our free newsletter with investigative reports and breaking news alerts.   


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Johnny Kampis is a content editor at Watchdog.org, and is helping to start the organization’s Alabama Watchdog bureau in his home state. Johnny previously worked in the newspaper industry and as a freelance writer, and has been published in The New York Times, Time.com and Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  • http://twitter.com/DanStlMo DanStlMo

    There’s no conspiracy here, none I tell you, none.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-James/100000892166766 Raymond James

    Seems to me that they are attempting to comply with the state law by not sharing documents with a federal data base and assure the feds that they have see the source documents so it is sorta the same as sharing with the feds even if they are not sharing.

    IF the state doesn’t comply with the federal Real ID act then to fly a Missourian will have to obtain a Passport . But in order to get a passport eh Missourian will then comply with the real ID act.

  • OldTimerMO

    As the article stated Mr. Nixon wasn’t sending a bunch of useful information to a data base but they are and they are also sending it to the Highway Patrol that is forwarding it to the feds another State agency controlled by Mr. Nixon. The Highway Patrol already has access to you driver license history,SS and other info so why do they need to know how many times you been married or if you got a registered firearm. A ID doesn’t mean nothing in this Country there is most likely 10-15 million Illegals got IDs that they use for every State and Federal program in the Country.

  • The Wizard of Missouri

    Ignore the man behind the curtain, the great and powerful Jeremiah has spoken.

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