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Florida's League Of Women Voters Asks Pam Bondi For Independent Probe Into Department Of Agriculture

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Recent media reports detailing mistakes by Florida’s Department of Agriculture in issuing firearm permits have some advocacy organizations calling for further investigation. The League of Women Voters is asking Attorney General Pam Bondi to conduct the probe.

Reporting by the Tampa Bay Times and POLITICO outlines a pattern of oversight in the Department’s issuing of concealed carry permits.  Beyond mistakes like not fully vetting applicants, a former head of the bureau tasked with issuing licenses alleges she was instructed to issue at least 75 permits per day.

The same employee told the Tampa Bay Times a superior told her she “worked for the NRA.”

Now, Florida’s League of Women Voters wants a deeper dive into Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s agency. League President Patricia Brigham signed a letter to the State Attorney General alongside the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

“What has emerged is a pattern of ongoing, egregious carelessness, incompetence and cover-ups,” Brigham said. She is requesting “an investigation that is completely transparent, and gets to the bottom of the mistakes made at the Department: Exactly how they were made, if there were future attempts to cover them up, and if there are additional issues that have not yet come to light.”

Andy Pelosi, co-chair of the Coalition, wants tasks related to processing permits in the hands of another agency.

“We’re also requesting that the Legislature and Governor move to enact legislation that will relieve the Department of Agriculture of all duties with respect to performing background checks on applicants for concealed weapons permits, and move this procedure to the appropriate agency: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement,” Pelosi said.

The organizations say the FDLE is “better trained to safeguard the process” of regulating firearms. In previous responses, Putnam has said a single employee is to blame for errors leading to nearly 300 revoked permits.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.