Adam Putnam: No mores lapse in background checks

Adam Putnam: No mores lapse in background checks

The office of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a gubernatorial candidate, released a response on Friday night to the report by the Tampa Bay Times regarding a story they ran earlier in the day about his office not conducting concealed weapons background checks.

Lisa Wilde, the employee who was in charge of running background checks, has since been fired, although she admitted to the Times that she had been working in the mail room when she was first tasked with managing the database in 2013 and doesn't understand why she was put in charge of it in the first place.

In 2012, he held a news conference to tout the state's one millionth concealed weapons permit, noting the time it took to process an application fell from 12 weeks to 35 days on his watch.

"A license to carry does not exempt a person from the background check required when you purchase a firearm", she says.

Putnam recently proposed legislation that would require concealed carry permits to be approved in the case of inconclusive background checks that would otherwise put an application in limbo, but he dropped it after the Parkland shooting. The lapse was revealed in an inspector general's report sent to Putnam in 2017.

The department employee failed to make follow-up inquiries into 365 applicants who were flagged for noncriminal reasons during three background checks over the year-long period. And Philip Levine, a former Miami Beach mayor, called for an investigation and said Putnam has forfeited "any moral right to lead". Wilde didn't follow up with the agency, however, and the agency apparently never followed up with her either-allowing the problem to continue for months thereafter. "As soon as we learned that one employee failed to review applicants' non-criminal disqualifying information, we immediately terminated the employee, thoroughly reviewed every application potentially impacted, and implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening again".

The full statement from his office, as well as a full statement from Putnam, can be seen below.

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Putnam asserted that "no one's safety was at risk" because those 291 people would not have been able to purchase a firearm. His campaign issued a statement saying some background checks were completed later, after officials found out about the lapse.

Emails included in the report said the employee tried to get online-access help from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in April 2016 and told someone she was having login problems.

The agency later identified 365 applications the employee oversaw as "problematic".

"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.

Wilde was chastised as negligent in the inspector general's report.

Employees in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stopped using the database for more than a year, an investigation found. These revocations could be due to mitigating factors such as drug usage, mental illness, and more non-criminal disqualifications for a concealed carry.

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