Has Senator Stan Gerzofsky Committed a Crime?
On April 8, 2015, a public hearing was held in the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety on LD 652, the Constitutional Carry bill. In a televised report on that hearing, Maine State Senator Stan Gerzofsky was interviewed and said on-camera that he was in possession of a list of permits which were denied by issuing authorities. Gun Owners of Maine believes that this statement may indicate a breach of confidential records. Our communication with the commitee, and the document we obtained, is below:
April 13, 2015
It has come to our attention that a member of your committee, Senator Gerzofsky, recently gave an on-camera interview to WCSH Television, in relation to the recent public hearing on LD 652, known as the Constitutional Carry bill.
In this recorded interview (currently viewable at http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/politics/2015/04/08/hearing-concealed-gun-bill-permit/25449821/?hc_location=ufi), Senator Gerzofsky stated:
"I have a list, it's a substantial list, of the permits that were turned down just this last year. Where people are being turned down for legitimate reasons."
As you may be aware, 25 MRSA 2006 provides that:
"All applications, documents made part of the application, refusals, and any information of record collected by the issuing authority during the process of ascertaining whether an applicant is of good moral character and meets the additional requirements of sections 2003 and 2005 are confidential and are not public records".
Violation of this confidentiality provision is a Class E crime.
Given that Senator Gerzofsky's statements appear to indicate that he is in possession of information covered by 25 MRSA 2006, we would like to request, under the provisions of the Freedom of Access Act, all documents, emails, reports or other records in the possession of the committee which may relate to any Concealed Handgun Permit applications, documents made part of the application, refusals, and any information of record collected by the issuing authority during the process of ascertaining whether an applicant meets the requirements for such a permit.
We would further request an immediate investigation into the nature of the specific list(s) Senator Gerzofsky claims to possess, the source of the list(s), and if that information is determined to be covered under the provisions of 25 MRSA 2006, that the matter be referred for immediate criminal prosecution as well as disciplinary action by the Senate.
I would appreciate being kept informed of the progress on this matter.
Gun Owners of Maine, Inc.
UPDATEApril 23, 2015
I received the following reply to my FOAA request from Co-Char Rep. Fowle of the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.
As you can see, the document is a count of permits denied broken down by town and reason for denial.
Below is our response to Co-Chair Rep. Fowle:
April 24, 2015
Thank you for your reply to my FOAA request, Rep. Fowle.
Unfortunately, I am afraid that you may have an incorrect understanding of the confidentiality provisions of 25 MRSA 2006. You state that "no personal information is contained in the document" and "the Committee does not possess any documents or emails that contain confidential concealed weapons permit application information". The statue does not protect only personal information, and the document you provided consists solely of confidential concealed handgun permit application information.
1. All applications for a permit to carry concealed handguns and documents made a part of the application, refusals and any information of record collected by the issuing authority during the process of ascertaining whether an applicant is of good moral character and meets the additional requirements of sections 2003 and 2005 are confidential and are not public recordsThat is, the entire application and any information collected in the course of evaluating the application, is confidential.
Further, the statute defines what is a public record:
2. Permanent record of permit. The issuing authority shall make a permanent record of each permit to carry concealed handguns in a suitable book or file kept for that purpose. The record must include the information contained in the permit itself. The record is confidential except that the following information about each permit holder is not confidential and is a public record:
A. The municipality of residence; [2013, c. 54, §1 (NEW).]
That means only the town, issue date and expiration date of issued permits is a public record, and nothing else. Not denied permits, and not the reasons for denial.
The document provided by the Committee appears to contain 100% confidential information, as it all extracted from permit applications, and not issued permits, and contains information of record collected by the issuing authority during the process of determining if the applicant meets the requirements for issuance of a permit. I would conclude that the confidentiality of this protected information has, in fact, been breached.
Pleaae bear this information in mind during work session on LD 652 today; the information provided by the Maine Chiefs of Police is illegally obtained confidential information. The issuing authorities who provided that information have committed crimes, and have violated the public's trust in an attempt to influence your committee and the very Legislature which made this information confidential only last session. There is no better illustration why Constitutional Carry is needed in Maine; the authorities entrusted with carrying out the law, as written, routinely and blatantly violate that law with impunity.
Please let me know what steps you intend to take to see this crime is appropriately referred for prosecution.