Governor Eric Greitens is criticizing Kansas City Star stories about the governor reportedly communicating with his staff through a cell phone app that immediately deletes text messages after they’re read. During a St. Louis press conference today about an unrelated issue, Greitens discussed the issue about the app called “Confide”, which prevents recipients from saving, forwarding, printing or taking screenshots of text messages.
“This is another nothing story that’s come from a liberal media outlet that is just desperate for salacious headlines,” Greitens chuckles.
The newspaper’s reports say Greitens is using an alias called “Er Robert”.
“Sometimes media outlets like the Kansas City Star will be desperate to attack us at everyone turn,” says Greitens. “One of the reasons they are is because we are here fighting for the people of Missouri.”
Critics say the governor’s office is trying to skirt Missouri’s open records law.
At a separate press conference today in Jefferson City, his Republican colleague, Attorney General Josh Hawley says the message must be evaluated to determine if it’s a record, a closed record or an open record. He says the content of the communication must also be considered.
Hawley considers work-related communication an open record, regardless of whether it’s an email or text message on a private or state-issued device.
“That alone, I believe, would not qualify as a non-record. That is something to be weighed but it does not of itself take it out of the realm of public record,” he says. “This is one of the difficulties we face with a Sunshine law that was written decades and decades ago and has not been updated to take into account modern technology. In general, our impression and thinking is that text messages should be treated like and subject to be treated like and subject to the same analysis as emails.”
Hawley says a 2002 Missouri Supreme Court ruling prevents his office from simultaneously representing a state officer or state agency and taking adverse legal action against that state officer or state agency. His office is currently defending the Governor’s office in a different case. The details of that case are unknown.
“The legal complexities are significant but we are reviewing those carefully and as swiftly as possible,” Hawley says.
According to Hawley, the state’s open records law also gives the Cole County prosecutor concurrent jurisdiction on the issue.
Jill Enders contributed to this story.