JEFFERSON CITY — A federal investigator in the U.S. Social Security Administration violated protocol by making a verbal request for a list of people with Missouri concealed gun permits, Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer said, but a top federal official assured him the information never was used by any federal agency.
Luetkemeyer said he spoke with Patrick O'Carroll, the inspector general of the U.S. Social Security Administration, who told him that a Missouri-based investigator for his agency had recently requested and received an electronic copy of the list of concealed gun permit holders from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
During Senate testimony last week, the head of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said that a federal investigator was unable to read the disk and then destroyed it. Luetkemeyer said he was told by O'Carroll that the federal investigator was able to open and read the disk.
"The disk did open and when they found that they had 160,000 people's names and permit numbers and everything, they realized this was not the information they need to have, so again, they destroyed the information," Luetkemeyer told The Associated Press.
"The inspector has given me assurances that the information was not utilized in any way by his department," Luetkemeyer added. "It was not shared with any other Social Security department or any other government agency."
Luetkemeyer was scheduled to hold a news conference Monday to discuss what he has learned from federal officials about two incidents in which a Social Security fraud investigator was provided with details on Missouri concealed gun permit holders. In the first case, in November 2011, the disk was unable to be opened, Luetkemeyer and state Highway Patrol officials have said. But details have diverged about the second instance.
Republican lawmakers have described the sharing of information as a violation of gun owners' privacy rights; members of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's administration have described it as a legal exchange of information between law enforcement agencies.
Within the past month, Republican lawmakers have issued a subpoena, convened investigatory hearings and held news conferences about the ordeal while suggesting that state officials should be fired or — perhaps— even charged with a state misdemeanor crime for revealing information about concealed gun permit holders.
Luetkemeyer said he was told by the Social Security inspector general that the investigator had a legal right to seek the information but that the verbal request ran contrary to protocol stipulating that it should have been made in writing.
"It was a verbal request and, again, it was probably inappropriate," Luetkemeyer said.