The House Bipartisan Committee on Privacy Protection has asked whether the Department of Revenue has moved closer to complying with the federal Real ID Act, after a 2009 Missouri law barred compliance. The Committee was appointed to dig into whether the Department is mishandling personal information from Missouri license applicants.
Much of its hearing Tuesday focused on a letter from Department Director Alana Barragan-Scott to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano outlining 39 things that a state must do to comply with Real ID.
Osage County Sheriff Michael Dixon tells the Department’s head of driver’s licensing, Jackie Benboom, that letter raises doubts about whether the Department has in fact done nothing to comply.
“Any average person that picked up this document and read it would have believed that the Department of Revenue was clearly, in fact, complying with Real ID.”
Under oath, Benboom says that document was part of her agency’s effort to tell the federal government Missourians shouldn’t have to endure extra security checks just because Missouri was not Real ID compliant.
“What the federal government has said is that Missouri citizens … would have to have a second check when you are flying on an airplane or if you would go into [a federal government office] or like, the nuclear plant, on federal land.”
Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan asked Benboom about a 2011 letter she sent to Hal Tyson, a Program Management Specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, applying for an extension of a Fiscal Year 2008 REAL ID Demonstration Grant.
In that letter she says, “Missouri currently has legislation enacted that generally prohibits participation in REAL ID; however, over the past decade, Missouri has worked hard to implement a program for issuing driver licenses and identification cards with security standards consistent with the standards of the REAL ID Act.”
Jordan says it appears that she was saying Missouri would comply with Real ID in order to receive the grant money but Benboom disagrees.
“It may appear, but that’s not what we were doing.’
Jordan tells her, “Perception is reality and you can say ‘It’s not so,’ as many times as you want to, but it appears that this is a duck and you’re trying to tell us it’s a goose.”
Benboom and committee members disagreed whether Missouri has become more compliant with Real ID, or whether the state simply has a system that is comparable.
The Committee will take more testimony on Thursday. While it is meeting, House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) will conduct a conference call to discuss legal actions being prepared to compel officials in Governor Jay Nixon’s administration to fully cooperate with an investigation into the Department of Revenue’s actions. The Committee voted to subpoena several members of the Nixon Administration to appear and testify. They are Doug Nelson, Kristy Manning, Peter Lyskowski, Jeff Harris and Chris Pieper as well as former Revenue Department director Alana Barragan-Scott.