The Superintendent of the state Highway Patrol has spoken his mind about his agency’s release of concealed carry permit holder information to the feds.
Colonel Ron Replogle is not happy about how the patrol turned over a list of Missouri’s more than 163,000 concealed carry permit holders to Keith Schilb, an investigator with the Social Security Administration. Replogle says he understands Schilb wanted to compare it to a list of disability benefit recipients for mental illness. Those who were receiving such benefits are barred by law from owning guns. Those who were found to legally own guns might be fraudulently receiving benefits.
“I am the head of this agency and I will take full responsibility for it going out in the manner that it did. I don’t believe that we have violated any laws. This was a law enforcement agency, a law enforcement officer conducting criminal investigation. Was this the best way to release the information? No it was not.”
Replogle says he would have preferred such an investigation look for specific names.
“If you have a list of people that you suspect are committing fraud I think that’s an accurate thing for them to look into. I don’t think anybody would want someone that has a mental incapacity to the point that they can’t work and they’re receiving benefits for that to possess a CCW … there is a better way of doing that investigation that I think would have been easier and better.”
He adds, “I have family members that are CCW holders. My wife’s in the process of getting hers, my son’s in the process of getting his, so I’m very in tune to protecting that information and I don’t like the way that we released it.”
Replogle suggests he would have asked for the Administration’s list of names so that the Patrol could make the comparison to the CCW list itself.
He says since he first learned of the list’s release several weeks ago, a policy change has been in the works in the Patrol.
“If someone were to ask for a batch list … that will come up through my office and be reviewed by staff, be reviewed by legal counsel, before anything is released.”
Replogle tells the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability he will work with the legislature to create statute to prevent the release of the entire concealed carry list in the future.
The Colonel also expressed his frustration with the Administration over the apparent release of inaccurate information on Friday.
The Administration told Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday that the second disc it got from the Patrol containing the list of concealed carry permit holders was opened could be read. That contradicted the testimony of Replogle, who told a Senate Committee neither of two discs were readable.
Replogle learned on Friday from the Administration that an erroneous report had been released.
“I wanted that corrected immediately. If it’s false information it’s got my name all over it, for one, and I don’t want this information with false information about me and what I’ve already testified to all over the internet all weekend long. I’m already concerned about some issues with that, and I demanded that be corrected immediately. For whatever reason they chose not to correct that until [Monday] morning.”
This morning the Administration’s Assistant Inspector General for External Relations, Jonathan Lasher, sent Missourinet this e-mail:
“On Friday, this office informed U.S. Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer and the St.Louis Post-Dispatch that one of our Special Agents had received two sets of data from the Missouri State Highway Patrol: a single unreadable disk in 2011 and two disks in January of this year that we were able to open and view. We have since learned that this latter information was incorrect. What was provided to our agent in January 2013 was also a single encrypted disk, and, as with the 2011 disk, our agent was unable to open it or view the data it contained, and it was destroyed. In sum, although 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 have a long and mutually beneficial working relationship with the MSHP, and we regret any confusion our earlier statement might have caused.”
In a statement, Congressman Luetkemeyer says he is “furious that the Social Security Administration would put out false information like this,” and says the Administration should verify information before releasing it. He adds, “I am now more determined than ever to meet with the Social Security Administration Inspector General in person and get to the bottom of this.”
The Chairman of that House Committee, Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) says he doesn’t anticipate taking more testimony. Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), however, still wants a Senate Committee to hear from Schilb and his supervisor.
The Administration as of Monday afternoon says it has received no formal request for Schilb to testify.