A lawsuit over the use by Governor Eric Greitens’ staff of an app that erases text messages will go on. Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem in Jefferson City denied a motion by attorneys for Greitens to dismiss the case.
Beetem said the fact that the governor’s office was no longer using the app, known as “Confide”, didn’t render the issue moot because there’s no legal reason its use could not be reinstated.
He further said that justifying the use of the app because nothing is retained “holds less water than a policy of using disappearing ink for all official documents.”
St. Louis area attorney Ben Sansone filed a lawsuit in December alleging that Greiten’s use of the app amounted to a conspiracy to violate open records laws. Attorneys for Greitens have 20 days to respond to amended allegations filed by Sansome.
In 2017, Sansone and fellow attorney Mark Pedroli launched an organization that advocates for transparency in government. Pedroli says the organization, called the Sunshine Project, will dispute cases regardless of political affiliation. He says they are not politically active, accept on a very local level. Sansone is a Des Peres alderman.
Attorney General Josh Hawley, a fellow Republican of Greitens, opened an investigation into the governor’s use of Confide in December but later said it didn’t appear Greitens’ staff violated open records laws.
Hawley later admitted he hadn’t even spoken to Greitens about the issue and expressed frustration that he had no power under the State’s Sunshine Law to compel witnesses.
Attorney General Deputy Counsel Darrell Moore said at the time that Greitens’ staff had indicated they could use executive privilege to block any discussion about the Confide app with the attorney general’s office. Hawley’s endorsed a bill now in the legislature that gives him subpoena authority in such cases.