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Attorney General Eric Schmitt has recused his office from defending the state in a lawsuit contending the Missouri House violated the state's open records law.

It is the second time in two years that the state has had to hire private attorneys to defend lawsuits challenging alleged violations of Missouri's Sunshine Law.

The Kansas City Star reports Schmitt's office declined to explain the decision. In August, Schmitt said in a letter to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson that the governor should stop citing the First Amendment when he refused to release certain public records. The current lawsuit cites that letter.

Last year, then-Attorney General Josh Hawley declined to defend the state in a lawsuit challenging former Gov. Eric Greitens' use of the self-destructing text message ap Confide. The state has spent $400,000 on private attorneys in that lawsuit, which is ongoing.

The latest lawsuit was filed in October by the Sunshine and Government Accountability Project, which is challenging an internal rule passed by the Missouri House earlier this year. The rule allows some exceptions to the Sunshine Law for lawmakers, such as keeping constituents information like email addresses and phone numbers private.

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