Attorney General Josh Hawley says fellow Republican Governor Eric Greitens’ social media accounts are not public records. The Kansas City Star reports that the governor does not have to hand over information from his personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, including private messages and names of blocked users.
Meanwhile, Cole County judge Jon Beetem has rejected a request to issue a temporary restraining order against Greitens and his staff from using a mobile app called Confide to instantly delete text messages after they are viewed. Last month, two St. Louis area attorneys filed a lawsuit accusing Greitens and his staff of engaging in an ongoing conspiracy to violate Missouri’s open records laws by using the app called Confide.
The Star reports that the judge goes on to say “there are a whole bunch of open questions here we’re going to need to sort this out.” Beetem has scheduled a March hearing for further arguments.
In December, Hawley opened an inquiry into the Governor’s Office about its alleged use of mobile software that is designed to automatically destroy text messages. Hawley, who is running for U.S. Senate to unseat Democrat Claire McCaskill, announced the inquiry following public pressure from Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, and others.
At the press conference to announce the inquiry, Hawley said he considers work-related communication an open record, regardless of whether it’s an email or text message on a private or state-issued device.
Then there’s an investigation by Hawley’s office finding no open government records violations by State Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office. Hawley, a Republican, launched an investigation in December after conservative-leaning group Missouri Alliance for Freedom accused Galloway, a Democrat, of failing to provide text messages from her state-issued phone.
Do decisions by the attorney general about the governor’s social media records and auditor’s texting communications indicate the outcome of the governor’s secret texting controversy? Time will tell.