Attorney General Concludes Governor’s Office Follows Missouri Records Retention and Sunshine Law

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March 2, 2018

Today’s report by the Attorney General makes clear that the Governor’s Office follows state Sunshine and records retention laws. The Attorney General’s report confirms what the Office has said from the beginning: the Governor’s Office has never used Confide or any similar application to evade state records laws. 

The report confirms that the Office has had in place exemplary training, policies, and practices on Sunshine law and records compliance from day one. The Attorney General praises the Office’s hiring of an experienced special counsel to advise on records retention and Sunshine matters – a first in any Missouri Governor’s Office. The report reiterates that the Office cooperated fully with the Attorney General’s inquiry from the very beginning, including making staff available for interviews and volunteering to provide hundreds of pages of documents showing the Office’s commitment to records retention and the Sunshine Law. The report commends and specifically highlights the Office’s adoption of a policy that goes beyond what the law requires, calling it the “best practice.”

“This thorough report recognizes that we have gone above and beyond what the law requires in the interest of transparency,” said Parker Briden, press secretary. “We look forward to working with the legislature to modernize the state records retention and Sunshine law to bring further clarity to these issues.”

 From the Report:

  • “Based on the records and materials available, the AGO has not identified any basis for concluding that the GO has violated Missouri law through the use of Confide by GO personnel.”
     
  • “Because these communications fell within the scope of Records Series 21532, the GO had no obligation under Chapter 109 to retain the communications, and the GO did not violate Chapter 109 by failing to retain the communications through the use of Confide.”
     
  • “Here, the testimony of GO staff indicates any communications relating to public business transmitted over Confide fell within the scope of Series 21532, and thus those messages did not fall within the scope of Series 21530 or 21531.”
     
  • “The GO further voluntarily turned over additional documents not requested by the AGO.  The AGO also met with the GO’s in-house legal team regarding GO policies and practices.”
     
  • “The GO’s stated policies require the retention of all materials as provided by the State Records Commission’s retention schedules.  The GO’s record-retention policies affirm that whether Chapter 109 requires a given communication to be retained depends on the content and context of the communication, not on whether the communication was transmitted or received via a personal account or device.”
     
  • “Upon joining the Office, all GO staff receive thorough training regarding the Sunshine Law and record-retention laws.… several of the individuals interviewed by the AGO had received multiple in-depth trainings regarding compliance with public-records laws.”