The Chairman of a House Committee investigating whether Missouri law was violated in regard to the federal Real I.D. Act says it was, and says there is a connection to the Governor’s office.
A Missouri law enacted in 2009 opted the state out of the federal Real I.D. law. The Bipartisan Investigative Committee on Privacy Protection has focused on a new license procedure that included the scanning and retention of personal documents supplied by applicants for Missouri drivers’ and non-driver’s licenses and concealed carry permits. The committee’s chairman, Representative Stanley Cox (R-Sedalia), says that process violated state law.
“They say they didn’t have a purposeful design but they did things that were specifically authorized by not only Real I.D. directly, but also by the private agency that sets the standards and rules of it. If you put all that together, they were certainly implementing Real I.D. in many ways.”
The scanning and retention of documents has been discontinued except in some cases, such as for a commercial driver’s license.
The Committee’s members have asked numerous representatives of the Nixon administration, under oath, questions about whether Governor Nixon himself was behind the alleged implementation of Real I.D. Cox says none of them are talking.
“Certainly I believe that more than the Department of Revenue knew this. I think the Governor’s Office knew it. We just have to reach conclusions about who made the decision and I guess people are maybe going to have to draw their own mind when they look at the facts.”
The Committee will hold one more hearing in August. Cox says he wants to dig deeper into the fraudulent issuance of identifications to about 3,500 illegal immigrants from the St. Joseph License Bureau that resulted in nine indictments in January 2012. He says he’s run into a roadblock with the Revenue Department, though.
“I had sent an open meetings request and they said they can’t give me any information about it because it’s an active, ongoing investigation.”
Cox says he’d be surprised to learn that the investigation is still ongoing.
“Based upon information we’ve received from a very reliable source, I think that investigation is long since ended. There’s been at least one federal prosecution, there was a guilty plea about a month ago … a sentencing of an individual up in St. Joe … and I don’t think there are any other investigations, but if there are we need to know the status.”
The Committee also has gotten to talk to all the individuals it subpoenaed last month that didn’t show up, after being advised not to honor those subpoenas by an attorney for the governor’s office. Cox says they attended the hearing voluntarily, but says they were not very cooperative.
“Generally not particularly forthcoming in regard to whether the chief executive had any clue about what was going on in the Department of Revenue, and they certainly all deny that anything that they did was a violation of he state law.”
Asked where Cox sees a definitive connection between the implementation of Real I.D. and the Governor’s Office, he says that will be detailed in the committee’s findings and report.
“I think the committee members generally have some inclination that the implementation of Real I.D. was in fact the goal of this administration.”
Cox also wants to call at least one more witness to talk about the Governor’s involvement.
“I haven’t picked the person’s name. Somebody in the Governor’s office.”