By Ashley Jost
This morning, a lawsuit addressing document retention for conceal and carry permits was filed in Stoddard County in southeast Missouri.
The lawsuit was filed by Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver, who said during the last month the Department of Revenue began collecting and scanning documents that people were bringing in to get their conceal and carry permits renewed.
One applicant, Eric Griffin, 52, went to the Department of Motor Vehicles after passing the application process for his permit — which Oliver said was conducted by the County Sheriff’s office — in order to apply for the permit itself. After employees attempted to scan some of his documentation and he denied, he was refused to apply and sent away.
Oliver, acting as a personal attorney, is representing Griffin in this case against defendant Elizabeth Rowland, the Fee Office Agent for Stoddard County.
“State statute 32.091 says [the Department of Revenue] isn’t supposed to retain or collect documents],” Oliver said. “Another statute says they are not supposed to be compliant with the [federal] Real ID Act that says for federal agencies to recognize state IDs, the state needs to collect all documents and store them. It sounds like the DOR is trying to comply with the Real ID Act.”
Oliver said the data they DOR is collecting is being forwarded to Morpho Trust U.S.A., a company based in Georgia.
According to the company’s website, they specialize in partnering with government agencies in providing secure identification information.
“The other issue with all of this is that for the statute that says the DOR is a scrivener except in the conceal carry process,” Oliver said. “Basically meaning all of the discretion and decision making process is done by the sheriff.”
Oliver said it’s a privacy concern for conceal and carry holders not wanting everyone in the country to know if they have a permit, especially the Obama Administration.
“I’ve been told they received a grant from the federal government to put this [system] in,” Oliver said.
Motivation for pursuing this could be to make Missouri compliant with the federal Real ID Act, Oliver said, allowing state IDs to be recognized by federal agencies. Because this is not a regulatory scheme, the supremacy clause doesn’t apply, he added.
The implementation of this system has been noticed during the last month in southeast Missouri and in Kansas City, Oliver said.
The next steps of this case, while they’re without a time limit, include a restraining order against the defendant and a hearing for a preliminary junction being issued.
Sen. Will Kraus, R-8, filed a bill ear- lier during session, SB252, that seeks to prohibits the Department of Rev- enue from retaining copies of source documents used to obtain driver’s li- censes and nondriver’s licenses.
“Based on a constituent contact, we learned last summer that the Depart- ment of Revenue was planning to scan and keep personal documents, includ- ing birth certificates, in a statewide database,” Kraus said. “Senate Bill 252 will prohibit the Department from collecting such sensitive information.”
Oliver will hold a press conference today at 2:30 p.m. in the House Lounge, and also present will include representatives Jason Smith, Todd Richardson, Kit Hampton and Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder.
The Missouri Times is still waiting for comment from the DOR, and will update the story periodically as more information comes in.
— Updated at 4:45 p.m.
During the press conference this afternoon, Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver, along with Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder and House Speaker Tim Jones appeared to discuss and take questions about the lawsuit filed this morning.
The press conference began with an overview of the situation, provided by Oliver with supplement, large-scale understandings of the State’s involvement from Kinder.
Oliver discussed the refusal his client was faced with when attempting to acquire the permit he was approved for by the Sheriff’s office previously.
Kinder defined the difference between may and shall-issue states, pointing out that may-issue states revolve around discretion, and shall-issue states, like Missouri, adhere to a checklist of requirements. Once those requirements are met to secure a permit, the State must issue said documentation.
After the conference, Jones told The Missouri Times that he isn’t sure what, if any, legislative assistance is needed in this situation.
“It seems to me, at first blush, that we have yet another overreach from either the federal or state government,” Jones said. “Like water running down a hill, once again Missourian’s rights seem to be at stake.”
In an email from Ted Farnen, Department of Revenue Communication Director, stated: “We can’t comment on the litigation. The Department’s operations are not inconsistent with the statutory protocols.”
— Updated at 6 p.m.
Judge Robert N. Mayer from the 35th Judicial Circuit in Missouri signed a temporary restraining order this afternoon at 4 p.m. stating that the defendant, Elizabeth Rowland, Stoddard County Fee Office Agent, has “no legitimate purpose in disclosure of this protected personal information to the Federal Government,” according to the restraining order.
The restraining order states that Rowland has been restrained and enjoined from collecting and retaining the birth certificate, residency documents and application of the Plaintiff, Eric Griffin, as well as any other citizen of Stoddard County, as well as the dissemination of that documentation to the federal government.
The preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m., March 12.
Ashley Jost is no longer with The Missouri Times. She worked as the executive editor for several months, and a reporter before that.