Putnam’s office failed to do background checks for a year

Leroy Wright
June 10, 2018

An Office of Inspector General report from June 2017 -- obtained by the Times in a public records request -- said that between February 2016 and March 2017, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services didn't access an Federal Bureau of Investigation crime database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System because an employee was unable to log into the system.

This coming a year after the Department of Agriculture's Inspector General finished their investigation in June 2017.

Today, the Tampa Bay Times published a report titled "Adam Putnam's office stopped concealed weapons background checks for a year because it couldn't log in".

"Upon discovery of this former employee's negligence in not conducting the further review required on 365 applications, we immediately completed full background checks on those 365 applications, which resulted in 291 revocations", Putnam said.

To be clear, a criminal background investigation was completed on every single one of the 349,923 concealed weapon license application submitted from February 2016 to March 2017. Now, the Department of Agriculture is setting the record straight. She never mitigated this issue.

A report from the Florida Inspector General shows an employee in Putnam's office did not pull in the background checks that were run by FDLE between roughly February 2016 and March 2017. He is a major defender of access to guns and has declared himself a proud "NRA sellout".

"Career politicians like Mr. Putnam think this is just another bad day at the office - but when you hide a level of negligence that endangers every resident, and every child, in Florida, you forfeit any moral right to lead", said former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, one of the Democratic candidates running for governor.

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"Shockingly irresponsible - for over a year, #FL failed to run proper background checks for concealed carry permits". "The former employee was both deceitful and negligent, and we immediately launched an investigation and implemented safeguards to ensure this never happens again". He said a total of 365 applications were reviewed after the problem was discovered.

Watch: Adam Putnam answers reporters' questions about the investigation and reports.

The system will flag applicants who have served time in prison for more than a year, are convicted of drug use in the past year, are undocumented immigrants or were involuntarily committed or deemed to have a "mental defect" by a court or dishonorably discharged from the military. This has caused issues before. In 2012, he said his office had "closed the gap".

That's particularly damning since Putnam, in effect Florida's gun czar, campaigned on a determination to speed up concealed carry applications. But the legislation was pulled after the deadly mass shooting in Parkland.

The employee is quoted in the report as saying that she "dropped the ball".

"I am extremely alarmed at the failure by Commissioner Putnam to disclose that his agency had failed to conduct these critical background checks - allowing possibly mentally disturbed individuals and others who should be disqualified, to be legally armed in Florida", Stewart said. Furthermore, where were her superiors with this lack of oversight?

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