Amid governor transition, judge supports collection of Confide users' data

Greitens' office to turn over names, numbers

Amid governor transition judge supports collection of Confide users data

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Jon Beetem, the presiding Cole County circuit judge, supported an order Wednesday to collect the names and phone numbers of the staff members in Gov. Eric Greitens' office who used the secretive texting app Confide.

Mark Pedroli, the attorney for plaintiff Ben Sansone of the Sunshine Project, said the information will confirm the number of staff members who used the app, as well as strengthen an upcoming subpoena to the New York-based company, Confide, Inc.

"We need [the governor's office] to tell them to tell us the numbers that used Confide," Pedroli said. "That way we can provide those to Confide and they can give us information. Without the numbers we're going on rumor and innuendo and press reports."

The governor's office has not said how many staff members use, or have used the app, according to Pedroli. The order will be need to be answered by the governor's office Wednesday or Thursday, according to Pedroli.

Attorney General Josh Hawley investigated the staff's use of Confide and released a report in March. Hawley found no evidence of wrongdoing, saying the conversations were non-substantial and were not required to be retained.

Hawley's report said that no messages were obtained by his office, but they did interview five Confide users in Greitens' office. After the report was released, Hawley said his office would reopen the investigation if they had the ability to issue subpoenas.

"There is no statement or document that says those are the only five people" using Confide, Pedroli said.

On Friday, Lt. Gov. Mike Parson will take up the role as governor shortly after Greitens resigns from office. As part of the transition of power, Parson's office will then become the defendant in the case.

Robert Thompson, the attorney for the governor's office, said Wednesday that the transition will lead to changes in his relationship with the client, but the premise of the case will not change.

Although Parson will not be forced into the center of the case, it does open a window to possibly form newer, more robust public records policy, according to Pedroli.

"If he agrees that the policy needs to be strengthened, I would be happy to contribute my time and efforts to construct a new policy that would be better for the state of Missouri," Pedroli said.

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