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The Latest: Schmitt withdraws First Amendment motion

August 20, 2019 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Latest on Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt arguing the First Amendment allows him to withhold some public records in a lawsuit (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has withdrawn a legal brief he filed arguing that the First Amendment allowed him to withhold some public records concerning private citizens involved in a lawsuit.

Schmitt said in a statement Tuesday that his office determined after further review that the assertion should be withdrawn.

The attorney general filed the brief last week in a defamation lawsuit against Republican state Rep. Holly Rehder filed by former Scott City Mayor Ron Cummins. Schmitt, who is defending Rehder, argued giving information to Cummins’ attorney about constituents who had called Rehder’s office violated those citizens’ First Amendment rights.

Schmitt said in Tuesday’s statement that in limited instances, personal information can be withheld in lawsuits. But he said the assertion should not have been raised in the Cummins lawsuit.

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10:45 a.m.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is arguing in a lawsuit that the First Amendment allows him to withhold some records requested by the opposing attorney.

Schmitt’s office is defending Republican state Rep. Holly Rehder, who is accused by former Scott City Mayor Ron Cummins of defaming him.

Cummins’ attorney is seeking information about constituents who complained to Rehder’s office. Schmitt, whose office enforces Missouri’s Sunshine Law, argued in a brief last week that turning over information about constituents to Cummins’ attorney would violate the citizens’ right to free speech.

The Kansas City Star reports transparency advocates are concerned Schmitt’s argument is similar to one made by Gov. Mike Parson, who has invoked the First Amendment while withholding identifying information of private citizens who contact the governor’s office.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com