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Nixon denies knowledge of DHS letter thanking him for REAL ID implementation


COLUMBIA, Mo. — Gov. Jay Nixon said Wednesday he had not seen a 2010 letter from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano thanking him and his administration for efforts to comply with the REAL ID Act of 2005.

Gov. Jay Nixon
Gov. Jay Nixon

Speaking with reporters in Columbia, Nixon, who has attempted to stay out of the fray led by Republicans concerned that the state may have sent personal documents to the federal government, said: “I have not seen the letter you’re talking about. I honestly don’t know. It’s hard for me to comment on a letter I have not seen.”

The letter, sent to Nixon by Napolitano in March 2010, was revealed on Wednesday morning at a hearing of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, chaired by Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale.

“Thank you for your efforts to comely with the REAL ID Act of 2005 and its implementing regulations,” Napolitano wrote. Her letter came less than a year after the General Assembly passed a law restricting the state from implementing the program, which passed during the Bush years as an effort to combat document fraud.

** UPDATE** Later in the day, the Department of Revenue, at the request of Nixon’s office,  provided The Missouri Times with three nearly identical letters sent to governors in Virginia, Maine, and Idaho. The administration referred to them as “form letters” sent to multiple states.

The letter is another in a series of documents revealed from a sunshine request filed by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia. Schaefer found documents that showed the state had sent source documents for Conceal Carry Weapons endorsements to the Social Security’s Office of Inspector General, after Nixon said no documents had been sent to some federal “magical database.”

Nixon announced around the same time that the Missouri Department of Revenue would no longer scan source documents for gun permits.

The issue has distracted from the early part of his first term agenda: Medicaid expansion. He had been able to tour the state and freely discuss his plan to expand the program to some 300,000 Missourians, but the document scanning issue has managed to follow him from event to event. Still, Nixon said his focus is not on the issue.

“There will continue to be energy, but as we move into the next few weeks and next few months, our focus is on making sure we can move the economy forward and working together,” he said. “I don’t spend a lot of time reacting to the whatever daily energy might arise in that arena.”

The issue first emerged when Stoddard County resident Eric Griffin, 52, filed suit against his local fee office after they tried to scan his personal documents when he went in to file for a Conceal Carry Endorsement. After a fee office employee attempted to scan some of his documents, Griffin stopped them, and the fee office would not allow him to obtain his license.

Attorneys for the suit have called on Nixon to testify, but Nixon has refused.