MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The embattled Minnesota title and registration system, known as MNLARS, is facing a new serious allegation. The agency is accused of failing to cooperate with a state investigation.

That investigation centers on a data breach of Minnesotans personal information.

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Minnesota Republican State Senator Michelle Benson reacted with disbelief over the revelation that MNLARS had initially failed to turn over information to state auditors.

“The information is not private information. It’s public information. It belongs to the public ,” she said. “The fact that they are not giving public information to the legislative auditor should be considered a violation of the public’s trust and the employees who are standing in the way of this should be more responsive to the legislative auditor and if not they should be disciplined.”

Legislative auditor Jim Nobles says MNLARS failed to give him information he asked for on a data breach involving personal information of Minnesota citizens. So, for the first time in 35 years, he had to subpoena the information to get it

“It’s my understanding, in fact, it’s my knowledge that the department has in fact informed individuals that their data was inappropriately sent to certain companies,” he said.

Nobles says he is not sure how many citizens information was compromised.

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“That is something we are still looking at,” he said.

Nobles says in coming weeks his office will publish a full audit on MNLARS, the $93 million dollar state registration and licensing system that debuted in 2017 and has been plagued with problems ever since

Nobles says there has been a sort of “epic fail” here.

“There was and it cost a lot of money and it will still cost a lot more money and so that is the only word you can use. We failed to deliver. The State of Minnesota failed to deliver on what it promised,” he said.

A spokesperson for Governor Tim Walz released a statement in response to what they call a data breach.

“The governor takes the protection of Minnesotans’ personal data and transparency in government seriously. He was unaware of this incident, and has directed his office to seek more information,” the Governor’s office said.

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Now, the Department of Public Safety, which oversees MNLARS, has a very different take on this situation. They insist there was not a data breach, but do say that data for 1,500 people that should not have been sent to three private companies was in fact sent. And the DPS says it was in the process of turning over the information when the agency got the subpoena.

Esme Murphy