ST. LOUIS – The Missouri governor is going to court to fight a record’s request, despite the fact it primarily involves the governor’s predecessor.
Clayton trial lawyer Mark Pedroli says it’s unprecedented – a protective order by the governor’s office in his lawsuit involving secret cell phones and burner apps.
“It’s so unusual because it was a fairly simple request. We simply asked for emails that contained a keyword and the keyword was a statute, it was the number of a statute,” Pedroli said.
Pedroli asked for emails containing RSMo 407.1500 because he said, “They used this statute wrongfully to reject other people’s records’ requests. They said for years they did this.”
“We also thought it would be interesting to know how many people they refused records to over the last few years, relying on a statute they can’t rely on.”
Gov. Mike Parson’s office filed a protective order to fight turning over those records, despite the fact this case was initiated during the previous administration of Eric Greitens. Pedroli originally sued the Governor’s office over Greitens’ alleged use of a cell phone app called Confide, which destroys messages.
“They’ve spent so much money, not only defending Eric Greitens to date, I think they’ve spent a half a million dollars to date paying attorney’s fees to defend this litigation, and they could have just said give them these records or agree we can’t use burner apps in the governor’s office,” Pedroli said.
A judge in 2019 said Greitens, now running for U.S. Senate, and his staff did not violate the Sunshine Law. Pedroli is appealing, calling it an important fight for citizens to know about their elected leaders’ actions.
Pedroli said the use of secretive communications makes it so, “… there isn’t a record anymore. So, there’s nothing there for historians and journalists and citizens to know and to be able to hold them responsible for.”
The governor’s office did not respond to our inquiry early this morning, indicating we will likely have to wait until the next court hearing to find out more about its perspective.