A Missouri House committee looking into the Department of Revenue's now-defunct policy of scanning documents of driver's license applicants is finally hearing from top officials from Governor Jay Nixon's office.
The committee tried to force the officials to appear via subpoena, but they are now coming voluntarily since the Governor signed a new law that bans scanning of applicants' documents. Most of the questions asked on the first day focused on two areas: Whether Nixon Administration officials broke the law when Missouri's entire list of conceal-carry holders was provided to a federal investigator, and whether Nixon officials encouraged or directed DOR employees to implement the federal Real ID Act of 2005.
The first person to appear Tuesday before the House Bipartisan Investigative Committee on Privacy Protection was Office of Administration Commissioner Doug Nelson. He testified that they have not been trying to circumvent a 2009 state law barring compliance with the Real ID Act, and that any driver's license changes that lined up with Real ID requirements were a coincidence, not deliberate.
"I don't know specifically what those steps were, I don't know how they meet the check list of Real ID," Nelson said. "But I think the testimony from the Acting Director (John Mollenkamp) and from (Div. of Motor Vehicles Director) Jackie Bemboom was that when they took these steps, it wasn't to comply with Real ID."
As for the release of the state's list of conceal-carry holders, Nelson says no laws were broken there, either.
"When a law enforcement agency makes a request to a bureaucratic agency, it is not, and I think case law supports this, it is not the role of the bureaucrat to question what law enforcement requests – it is to provide it," Nelson said.
State Representative Nick Marshall (R, Parkville) was not satisfied. He accused the Nixon Administration of not respecting the private information of Missouri citizens when it released the state's conceal-carry list.
Committee members also questioned other officials today, including Chris Pieper, a senior advisor to Governor Nixon who formerly served as legislative liaison for the Department of Revenue. More members of Nixon's current and former staff are scheduled to testify Wednesday.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport