JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Did the Governor’s Office violate the law by using an app that erases text messages?
That will be the question a new investigation announced by the Attorney General’s Office will try to answer.
News broke Wednesday that Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley launched the investigation into whether the Governor and his senior staff use Confide to conduct state business following a report by the Kansas City Star two weeks ago. Several members of the Governor’s staff were reported to have the app linked to their personal cell phones, including the Governor, his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, press secretary, and several other senior staff members.
In a letter delivered to State Sen. Scott Sifton, the St. Louis County Democrat who called for the Attorney General to look into the matter, Hawley wrote that his office “takes very seriously the mandates of transparency and open government.”
“All Missourians deserve a state government that is open, transparent and accountable,” he wrote.
Hawley had earlier expressed concerns about whether his office could open an investigation as they currently represent the Governor’s Office in other matters, pointing to a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that said the office cannot simultaneously represent a state officer or agency and also take legal action against them.
But in the letter, Hawley said that he has concluded there is no conflict of interest here to prevent an investigation.
“While my office currently represents the governor in ongoing litigation, it represents the governor in those other cases in his official capacity,” he said. “The real party in interest in each of those cases, and the office’s true client, is the State of Missouri.”
Hawley also stated that his office is taking steps to “put an ethical screen” between the staff conducting the investigation and those representing the Governor’s Office.
You can read the Attorney General’s letter below:
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined The Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield.