Gun Controversy: Missouri House Source Tries Accessing Confidential Data to Prove a Point?

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House Speaker Timothy Jones.
  • House Speaker Timothy Jones.

One of the most hotly debated issues at the Missouri legislature this session is the question of whether the state is violating the privacy of residents with concealed-carry permits by way of some sort of "gun registry" conspiracy. The concern is that -- in the context of gun control -- officials in Missouri responsible for licensing may be maintaining a list of names that could be used outside of the state or by the federal government to track gun owners.

Now, it seems, someone using a Missouri House of Representatives computer has tried to access a confidential list of concealed-carry permit holders in the state, possibly to prove some sort of point that private citizens' personal information is at risk. This unknown source, however, was unsuccessful, and now the Missouri office of administration is trying to figure out who was making repeated unauthorized attempts to access a secured server...from a House IP address.

Critics of the GOP say this is basically an attempt at hacking a government database.

House Speaker Tim Jones, a Republican who has been a leading voice in the fight to protect the privacy of gun owners, has little to say about these efforts within the House to access confidential gun-permit data.

A spokesman for Jones and the House did not have any additional comment to offer beyond the speaker's remarks at a press conference yesterday, where reporters asked him about this controversy. He sent Daily RFT this footage, and Jones addresses questions on the matter at around the 9:20 mark.

On Friday, the office of administration announced that it had detected "repeated and unauthorized attempts to gain access" to a secure server and that the account in question "had at one time housed confidential CCW information" (referring to concealed-carry permit holders). In a release, the administration says:

After the initial attempt was denied, the individual or individuals made subsequent attempts to gain access to the site. This apparent attempt to access confidential CCW data, available only to law enforcement, came from an IP address belonging to the Missouri House of Representatives.

In response, the office made a records request to the House for all records related to the unauthorized attempt to access the restricted site.

At the presser yesterday, a reporter asked Jones if he was going to comply with the records request about the unauthorized attempt to access the data.

"I'll disagree with the premise of the question," Jones responded. "The House, as I mentioned, has had an ongoing investigation of the [Governor Jay] Nixon administration's scanning program and the disclosure of the documentation whether through the CD-ROMs or what I believe is an unlawful Web portal that was set up. So typically, we do not discuss the details of an ongoing investigation, but the House did check to make sure the web portal that was established was no longer active after the existence of that became completely known to the public. And that's all I can say on the matter at this time."

Continue for more on Tim Jones' press conference and his latest announcement on the gun privacy investigation.

Another reporter asked Jones if the attempt to access the data was under his directive.

Example of concealed-carry endorsement in Missouri. - VIA
  • via
  • Example of concealed-carry endorsement in Missouri.

The speaker responded that this was a long investigatory process in which he is periodically given updates and added that the fact that this kind of list ever existed in the first place is the real problem. "It just continues to show that we have some serious flaws in policy that we need to address."

And any response to reports that the individual had tried to access this data two dozen times?

"I'm not aware of the specifics of that," Jones responded.

Meanwhile, Jones announced yesterday that he is creating an independent, bipartisan investigation committee to look into the "Department of Revenue scandal" to "investigate potential violations of Missourians' privacy rights."

Here's the full release from the office of administration outlining the attempted breach and the subsequent records request.

Office of Administration files Sunshine request with House of Representatives officials after unauthorized attempts to access secured server from a House IP address

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Office of Administration is issuing a request under the Sunshine Law to the Speaker of the House, the House Clerk, and the House Director of Information Systems for all records related to an unauthorized attempt to access a restricted File Transfer Protocol (FTP) site originating from the House of Representatives.

At approximately 10 a.m. this morning, the State of Missouri Data Center detected repeated and unauthorized attempts to gain access to the state's secure FTP server. The account to which the unauthorized access was attempted had been set up for Special Agent Keith Schilb of the Office of Inspector General of the Social Security Administration and had at one time housed confidential CCW information.

After the initial attempt was denied, the individual or individuals made subsequent attempts to gain access to the site. This apparent attempt to access confidential CCW data, available only to law enforcement, came from an IP address belonging to the Missouri House of Representatives.

The Office of Administration (OA) this morning requested the House Clerk to preserve computer records that would help identify the specific House computer from which the attempts had been made. Late this afternoon, OA was notified by the House Clerk that the records requested would not be provided, and that the House would continue its normal procedures regarding the preservation of data.

In response, the Commissioner of Administration is issuing a request under the Sunshine Law to the Speaker's office, the House Clerk, and the House Director of Information Systems to ensure all available and relevant records are retained and provided to the Office of Administration, and not destroyed.

And the speaker's news release on the creation of an investigative committee:

Speaker Tim Jones Announces Independent Committee to Investigate Potential Violations of Missourians' Privacy Rights



"The people of Missouri need answers so we can make sure this doesn't happen again. Our private information has been put at risk, and those responsible must be held accountable."



(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) - Today, Speaker Tim Jones announced that he will be appointing an independent, bipartisan investigative committee to look into the Department of Revenue Scandal to help develop solutions to ensure this does not happen again. The committee will be made up of former law enforcement officials from across the state.



"When I first learned about this breach of Missourians' privacy, I was alarmed, as were many across our state. The public's trust in our government has been harmed by this violation of their privacy, and the only way to begin to repair the damage done is to determine the extent of the scandal, find those responsible, and make sure they are held accountable," said Jones.



"To find the truth about why license documents were being scanned and stored and why a complete list of concealed-carry weapons permit holders was shared with the federal government, I have appointed an independent committee - the Bipartisan Investigative Committee on Privacy Protection - to investigate the incident. I hope that Governor Nixon will work with this committee to help provide the clear answers we need."



"The people of Missouri need answers so we can make sure this doesn't happen again. Our private information has been put at risk, and those responsible must be held accountable. This independent commission will help to uncover the truth about this violation of Missourians' privacy and help recommend ways we can avoid such problems in the future."



The members of the Bipartisan Investigative Committee on Privacy Protection include:



-The Honorable Russ Oliver, prosecutor for Stoddard County

-Sheriff Stuart Miller of Audrain County

-Mr. Omar Davis, former General Counsel and Director of the Department of Revenue

-Sheriff Glenn Boyer of Jefferson County

-Mr. Gary Fuhr, former State Representative and retired FBI agent

-The Honorable Mike Fusselman, prosecutor for Randolph County

Additional members may be added in the coming weeks.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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