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Governor's team wants halt on discovery in Confide lawsuit

Governors team wants halt on...

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Lawyers for Gov. Eric Greitens want a judge to halt requests for documents in a lawsuit over the office's use of a secretive texting app.

The request was made Monday in Cole County for a stay in discovery in the ongoing lawsuit over Greitens and his team's use of Confide, an messaging app that destroys the texts once read.

Ben Sansone, with the Sunshine Project, sued the governor's office in December after The Kansas City Star reported on the office's use of Confide. The lawsuit claims using the app violates the state's open records law, if the governor's team used the app to discuss public business. Lawyers for Greitens have denied the app was used in that way.

The motion said Sansone's requests for information are "a wide-ranging fishing expedition in an attempt to muster some factual basis for his imagined allegations of violations of law." The 130 discovery requests include any admissions of using Confide to discuss Greitens' gubernatorial campaign, as well as individual conversations with his aides, donors or other political figures.

The motion from Clayton-based attorney Jeffrey Hoops at Dowd and Bennett, said much of the information requested was "irrelevant" to the case, and seeks information that Sansone should have had before filing the lawsuit. Hoops said Greitens plans to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit soon.

"Because the forthcoming motion, if successful, will dispose of [Sansone]'s lawsuit in its entirety, any efforts expended on discovery now would be wasted," the motion said.

The questions posed to the governor's office include any use of Confide to speak with any of 54 individuals at the state and national level. Those include Attorney General Josh Hawley, Greitens megadonor Michael Goguen and Blackwater founder Erik Prince.

The request also asks if Greitens used Confide to speak wealthy national donors like Sheldon Adelson or Charles and David Koch, employees of President Donald Trump's administration, or anyone working for a nonprofit set up to pay for Greitens legal defense.

Sansone's attorney Mark Pedroli stood by the requests he made for discovery.

"Asking questions about the Office of Governor's use of Confide is a public service, and as difficult as these questions may be to answer, I hope the Office of Governor considers answering a public responsibility," Pedroli told ABC 17 News.

The attorney general's office cleared Greitens and his staffers of any wrongdoing in their use of Confide. The AGO report said use of Confide contained "transitory" records only, meaning messages that have "short-term value and are not an integral part of administrative or operational records file." Five of the eight staff members interviewed said they used Confide to discuss minor governmental business, such as scheduling phone calls or meetings.

Sansone filed a new lawsuit eight days after the AGO investigation completed, claiming the admission by these employees creates issues that need legal intervention.




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