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President Donald Trump arrives in St. Louis for tax speech

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (left) and State Attorney General Josh Hawley talk before the arrival of President Donald Trump at St. Louis Lambert International Airport on Nov. 29. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

JEFFERSON CITY • A Democrat from the Affton area called Friday on Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, to investigate Gov. Eric Greitens, also a Republican, and his staff for potential open records law violations after a report that the governor and his staff use a secretive app that deletes text messages after they’ve been read.

The Kansas City Star reported Thursday that Greitens and members of his senior staff had the app Confide downloaded to their personal cellphones. The app deletes messages and prevents recipients from saving, forwarding, printing or taking screenshots of messages.

“The attorney general has both the authority and the responsibility to investigate this matter and determine whether laws are being broken,” said state Sen. Scott Sifton, D-south St. Louis County. “The people of Missouri deserve transparency in their government. I am calling on Attorney General Hawley to move forward and investigate immediately.”

It’s unclear whether the governor and his staff are using the app for state business, campaign work or other government communication, or for personal matters.

Parker Briden, the governor’s spokesman, told the Star that he was unaware of anyone in the governor’s office downloading the app to a state-issued device.

Open records advocates told the Star that deleting any discussions of state business would prevent the public from scrutinizing the governor and his staff’s actions.

Sifton said Missouri law prohibited deleting certain records pertaining to state business.

Briden did not immediately respond to a Post-Dispatch request for comment on Friday. Nor did Loree Anne Paradise, deputy chief of staff for Hawley.

Paradise told the Star that because the attorney general represented the governor’s office on other pending legal issues, the office could not investigate Greitens’ potential Sunshine Law violations.

Sifton said in a letter to Hawley that recent history showed an attorney general could launch an investigation of potential open records law violations by the governor: In 2007, then-Attorney General Jay Nixon appointed an independent team to investigate then-Gov. Matt Blunt for potential open records violations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Jack Suntrup covers state government and politics for the Post-Dispatch.