Greitens' confide lawsuit after resignation

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JEFFERSON CITY - A Cole County judge issued an order Thursday calling for Gov. Eric Greitens and his staff to turn over information and devices connected to the administration's use of the Confide app.

Confide is a secretive texting app which deletes messages after they're sent.

In the order, the judge said Greitens' team has until 1 p.m. Friday to turn over the following:

  • names of everyone in the governor's office, Greitens included, who at any time used or downloaded Confide
  • the number of phones onto which Confide was downloaded, including the make and model, numbers and Confide screen names for those phones
  • the names of those who possessed the aforementioned phones

Greitens' office is to also "secure and preserve" and cell phones owned by the state and all data on those phones.

Earlier in the week, Circuit Judge Jon Beetem said he supported collecting the names and numbers of members of Gov. Eric Greitens' office who used the secretive texting app Confide.

The decision relates to a case filed by the Sunshine Project, which says use of the app violated state laws designed to provide transparency in government. Confide automatically deletes any trace of messages after they are read.

Mark Pedroli, the attorney representing the group suing Greitens over the Confide issue, he organization's attorney said, "[Wednesday] I had a hearing before Judge Beetem in which I asked for an order from the court demanding that the defendants answer some questions they've been evading for months.” 

Pedroli said responses to his question will "for sure identify the people in the office of governor, including the governor, that used Confide."

He said the answers will also help identify the number of phones each person had that might have used Confide and will provide phone numbers and screen names that may have been used with the app.

The lawsuit centers on whether Greitens and his staff were using their phones, and the app, for government business or personal matters.

Pedroli said the judge is concerned with preserving possible evidence. In order to do so, Pedroli hopes to get approval from the judge Thursday for phones to be collected and searched.  

"We want to get the phones and preserve copies of the phones that were used to communicate with Confide by a forensic examiner," he said. "This will probably take like five minutes. They bring their phone in and a Forensic examiner appointed by the court would make a copy and then give it to the judge."

MU law professor Sandy Davidson said the significance of this case will not change, no matter who is in office.

"Even though Governor Greitens will no longer be the governor, there's still the issue of was Sunshine Law violated by used of Confide," she said.  

Pedroli said Confide and apps like it need to be removed completely from government use to protect Sunshine Law and the residents of Missouri. 

"When you decide to work for a government you do give up a little bit of your privacy, you give up some things in exchange for the honor of representing the people of the state," he said.

KOMU 8 News reached out to Greitens' attorneys and received no response.