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Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Rep. Burlison on Subpoenas: This is not a Witch Hunt, We Just Want the Facts

Rep. Eric Burlison (Middle left) addresses the media alongside Representatives (From left) Sonya Murray-Anderson, Kevin Elmer

A group of Republican lawmakers from southwest Missouri collectively expressed frustration Friday over Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s effort to block subpoenas issued by a House committee. KSMU’s Scott Harvey reports.

The subpoenas were issued by the Bipartisan Investigative Committee on Privacy Protection to members of the Governor’s administration concerning the scanning of documents of driver’s license and conceal-carry applicants. But a Cole County judge has temporarily blocked the orders, calling on members of the House committee to submit documents supporting the subpoenas by July 28.   

Read Judge Green's response.

Rep. Eric Burlison, of Springfield, says lawmakers are just doing their due diligence to learn who ordered the Department of Revenue to scan Missourian’s private information.

“We are responding to the constituents that we serve and represent, who are making it very clear, they’re being very vocal to us. For many of us it’s the number one issue that we’re receiving correspondence from. People are very concerned,” Burlison said.

Burlison was joined Friday by Representatives Kevin Elmer, Kevin Austin, and Sonya Murray-Anderson, plus about a dozen community members.

The document controversy was a big focus of members in both chambers during the recently completed session, and has sparked concerns that the state is complying with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, despite a 2009 law passed by Missouri lawmakers that forbids compliance.

Burlison, who supported the ban on REAL ID, admits he didn’t believe all the conspiracy theory talk upon the bill’s passage, but calls it remarkable that “we’ve moved from conspiracy to fact.”

The Governor’s administration argued that the House committee did not have the authority to issue subpoenas since it consisted of some non-legislators. Circuit Judge Daniel Green, who sided with Nixon to temporarily block the subpoenas, did not rule on the legitimacy of the committee.

Rep. Kevin Elmer, of Nixa, says the Governor’s argument doesn’t make sense.

“You’ve got representatives of the people that are asking for these people to appear and testify, and it seems a little bit ridiculous to say that now that that committee is comprised of citizens, they can’t subpoena these people or have them come testify,” Elmer said.

“This is not a witch hunt,” Burlison noted, adding that he and fellow lawmakers are just trying to find out the facts. The group Friday called on cooperation from the Executive Branch, and for Attorney General Chris Koster to conduct an investigation into the matter.

Scott joined KSMU in November 2012. He had previously served five years as news director for KETR-FM, the public radio station in Commerce, Texas. A graduate of Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Scott enjoys producing human-interest stories, among other pieces that educate and engage the community. When not at work, he’s often taking part in outdoor activities, exploring new areas and restaurants, or staying up-to-date with the latest news and information. Scott was born and raised in Shenandoah, Iowa.