New information shows Greitens and 19 staffers used Confide app

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Most of Gov. Eric Greitens’ staff had Confide accounts, according to information turned over by the Governor’s Office on Friday.

Nineteen employees, past and present, downloaded and/or used the message-destroying app on their phones, including Greitens, his press secretary, and legal counsel.

Per a court order by Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem, the Greitens’ defense had until 1 p.m. to submit the names, phone numbers, and Confide account names of everyone, including the governor himself, who had downloaded and/or used Confide, stemming from a lawsuit filed back in December that alleged the Governor’s Office had used the app to get around the state’s open records laws.

On Friday, Greitens’ office revealed that 15 current staffers, as well as four former staffers and Greitens himself, had Confide accounts during his 17 months in office. That number is much higher than the number that had been used in the investigation done by Attorney General Josh Hawley earlier this year, which found no evidence of any wrongdoing.

That investigation had revealed eight people using the app, with only five using it for government business.

Hawley was heavily criticized for the investigation but argued that the lack of subpoena power had limited what the investigation could truly accomplish.

“I was surprised at the number of people,” said Mark Pedroli, the attorney for Ben Sansone who brought the lawsuit for Sunshine Law violations against Greitens.

He said he had been surprised to see that the number of users was so much higher – more than double – than what the AGO’s investigation had uncovered, and said that it was a troubling issue and the Governor’s Office needed to answer for it.

Here’s the full list, released Friday as a result of Judge Beetem’s order:

  • Eric Greitens
  • Lucinda Luetkemeyer, general counsel
  • Justin Smith, deputy counsel
  • Kristen Sanocki, deputy counsel
  • Jake Buxton, deputy scheduler
  • Logan Spana, deputy policy director
  • Maddie McMillian, special assistant
  • Mike Roche, chief of staff
  • Nick Maddux, deputy chief of staff
  • Parker Briden, press secretary
  • Sherri Kempf, legislative assistant
  • Todd Scott, legislative and policy adviser
  • Will Scharf, policy director
  • Kevin Carr, staff assistant
  • Jennae Neustadt, director of management and budget
  • Charlie Barnes, director of advance and outreach

The former staffers listed were Caleb Jones, former deputy chief of staff; Scott Turk, former directory of boards and commissions; Sarah Madden, former special counsel in charge of records requests; and Natalie Fryrear, former scheduler.

Pedroli said that the next step will be a motion to comply and look into who they communicated with using the application, whether they had communicated with A New Missouri, and discovering the full scope of the use of Confide by the Governor’s Office.

Benjamin Peters contributed to this report.

Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at alisha@themissouritimes.com.