Column - Protecting Freedom

Statement

By:  Blaine Luetkemeyer
Date: June 21, 2013
Location: Unknown

Over the past few months, I have found myself personally engaged in efforts to try and protect Missourians from the prying eyes of big government because the people of the 3rd Congressional District of Missouri have demanded it. As part of my oath as a member of Congress, I have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and to protect our nation against enemies both foreign and domestic. I take these responsibilities incredibly seriously.

Earlier this spring, I was alarmed when I became aware that state officials had provided the Social Security Administration with private information regarding Missourians holding concealed carry weapon licenses. After a series of inquiries and a personal meeting with Social Security Administration Inspector General, I was assured that the agency never accessed or shared the information and ultimately it was destroyed. State legislators followed up on my inquiries which were rooted in the notion that part of my job is to ensure the federal government abides by the laws and protocols under which it must lawfully operate.

Whether or not that was the case with regard to the IRS' handling of requests I made regarding the tax-exempt status granted to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is another question. For more than three years, officials at the IRS _ including disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner _ turned a blind eye to my requests for an investigation into HSUS' status, but when it was revealed that Lerner's division had intentionally targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, I stepped up our probe. Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration agreed to review the manner in which the IRS handled my requests and specifically look at the behavior of Lerner and her staff. I am anxiously looking forward to their response.

While these two situations have provided me with first-hand insight into how out-of-control the current administration is when it comes to protecting our Constitution, our entire nation is now faced with an even more far-reaching scandal involving the lengths to which the National Security Agency (NSA) has gone in accessing all sorts of private electronic communications of millions of law-abiding American citizens. In this day and age, Congress must support legislation that will protect the country, however; it is then up to the administration to use that power wisely. There is a fine line between keeping the country and Americans safe and infringing on our civil liberties. There is a limit on how much information can be accessed by NSA and they completely abused their role. In the coming weeks, more details need to come out because Americans deserve to know everything that happened.

I believe that our republic mandates that the government remain accountable to the people, and unfortunately, in light of these ongoing scandals, our government has not been doing a very good job of that lately. Suffice it to say I will continue working to ensure that the rule of law remains supreme, and will continue to support the idea that a government that governs least governs best.