The Associated Press (AP) is refusing to comment on why it requested that the Montana Department of Justice (MDOJ) give it a list of the names and personal information of every concealed weapons permit (CWP) holder in the state.
When reached by telephone, AP Rocky Mountain bureau chief Jim Clarke told Media Trackers Montana, “We do not comment on ongoing reporting efforts.”
Media Trackers Montana reported yesterday that Montana’s Republican Attorney General Tim Fox had denied requests by the AP and a Boston media outfit called MuckRock News for all information pertaining to the state’s CWP holders. Fox cited concerns that the width and breadth of the requests violated CWP holders’ “reasonable expectation of privacy” guaranteed by the Montana Constitution.
According to e-mails from MDOJ obtained by Media Trackers Montana, Montana AP reporter Matt Gouras formally requested the information on March 18.
“We’d like all public information included on each permit holder, including, but not limited to: last name, first name, middle, street address, city, employer, age or DOB, driver’s license number, date of application,” Gouras wrote in his request.
Media Trackers Montana reached out to Gouras, who said he “could not speak for the AP.” Gouras directed any inquiries to the head of the Montana Associated Press, Matt Volz, who, in-turn, directed Media Trackers to regional bureau chief Jim Clarke.
In addition to the AP’s request, the DOJ received a similar request on April 30 from Shawn Musgrave, a representative of MuckRock News.
Based in Boston, MuckRock News seeks to gather public information from government entities in order to make it easily accessible to the media and members of the public.
“The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage,” Musgrave wrote in his request.
The request also asks the DOJ to waive any fees it might charge for the information since MuckRock said it was in “the public interest.”
MuckRock News did not respond to Media Trackers Montana’s requests for comment prior to publication.