JEFFERSON CITY • State Treasurer Eric Schmitt’s chief of staff downloaded Confide, a smartphone application that automatically deletes text messages once they are read, according to a record obtained by the Post-Dispatch.
Andrew Dziedzic, who worked for former Gov. Eric Greitens' transition team before joining Schmitt's office last year, likely used the app sometime in 2017, said Mark Pedroli, who is investigating Greitens’ use of the app.
Schmitt, a Republican, will become attorney general in January after Attorney General Josh Hawley resigns to join the U.S. Senate.
Through his private lawsuit against the governor’s office, Pedroli obtained a screenshot of a text message exchange between two Greitens associates that lists Dziedzic as a Confide user.
The revelation marks an expansion of the universe of public officials and political operatives in Jefferson City known to have used the app. At least 27 people in former Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration used or downloaded the application.
Greitens resigned this year amid multiple investigations into allegations of abusing a woman with whom he was having an extramarital relationship, illegally using a nonprofit’s donor list for political fundraising and relying on a dark-money political organization to target enemies.
Hawley, a Republican, has not said whether any members of his senior staff in the attorney general’s office used Confide — leading Pedroli to question whether Hawley had a conflict of interest when he investigated Greitens’ Confide use this year and found no wrongdoing.
Open records advocates have said using the app to discuss public business would violate state records retention laws. Dziedzic did not respond to multiple inquiries and a list of emailed questions about his use of the app.
It is unclear when or why Dziedzic downloaded the app, whether he downloaded it on his personal or state-issued device or whether he discussed any public business on Confide.
The screenshot Pedroli obtained is of a mundane text message exchange — not on Confide — between two taxpayer-paid employees. The screenshot is undated.
“Are you getting my messages on [Confide?]” constituent services liaison Kevin Carr texted Dylan Johnson, who worked on Greitens’ campaign and went on to work as a “special assistant” in the agriculture department. “No,” Johnson replied.
Carr then texted Johnson a screenshot of a “sent” receipt showing that he did send Johnson a message on Confide. The screenshot includes extraneous information about people in Carr’s address book who were also using Confide. Dziedzic is on the list.
“Confide Inc. apparently displays to those who download Confide all other people in their contact list who also use Confide,” Pedroli said. “It just so happens to show Andrew Dziedzic was ‘also on Confide.’”
Mentioned as “also using Confide” were Ellie Ferrell and Dallas Ernst, two Greitens campaign workers. Catherine Chestnut, Greitens’ sister-in-law who was an operative for the political nonprofit A New Missouri, was also listed as using the app.
Jonathan M. Hensley, chief counsel in the treasurer’s office, said in response to an open-records request that the office possesses no records produced by the app, no records referencing any internal conversations regarding the app and no emails or text messages produced by office staff that even use the word “confide.”
“This Office does not use the application mentioned in your request, or any similar application,” Hensley said in an email.
The brief statement does not address whether anyone used the app in the past. When asked how he squared his statement with Post-Dispatch reporting, Hensley repeated the same statement in an email.
“The incoming attorney general and his staff must be honest and transparent about the use of Confide or burner apps in the State Treasurer’s office,” Pedroli said in an email. “Too many questions are already swirling about the use of Confide in the current AG’s office.”
Like Hawley, Schmitt forgoes using email for state matters. Missouri's four other Jefferson City-based statewide officeholders, according to The Kansas City Star, all use email for official business.
Open-records advocates worry the practice could be used as a way to avoid making public records. Schmitt has said he prefers face-to-face communication.