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Attorney general to investigate Governor’s use of secretive texting app

Attorney general Josh Hawley said Wednesday that his office has “opened an inquiry” into Gov. Eric Greitens use of a secretive texting app, Confide, among senior members of his staff.

The app, which is on the personal phones of the Republican governor and multiple staffers, automatically deletes text messages after they are read. Confide also prevents capturing texts via screenshot or screen recording.

Democratic state Sen. Scott Sifton asked Hawley to look into the governor’s use of the app after its use was first disclosed. On Wednesday, Hawley responded in a letter, saying his office will review if Sunshine and/or record retention laws have been violated.

ABC 17 asked Parker Briden, the press secretary for Greitens, for their reaction to the investigation. “We’re confident that this review of our records retention policy will show that we follow the law,” Briden said. “Records related to official business of state government that come into the possession of Governor’s office staff are retained.”

Last week, Greitens dismissed the notion of Sunshine or records retention laws being violated by use of the app. He said the report, originally published by The Kansas City Star, is a “nothing story that’s come from a liberal media outlet that is just desperate for salacious headlines.”

Use of Confide is not inherently illegal, but the nature of the app draws concern for open-government advocates because it’s possible official business is being deleted by the app. It is illegal to destroy public records “regardless of physical form or charictaristics.”

For more on the definition of a “record,” click here.

When asked if it’s possible the governor and his staff deleted public records, Briden said, “Our office policy is straightforward: We follow the law.”

ABC 17 asked Sifton for his response to that statement. “I’m more interested in the investigator’s assessment of the facts than the target’s assessment of the facts before the investigation,” Sifton said.

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