Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Illinois Attorney General Issues Third PAC Opinion of 2018

The Office of the Attorney General recently released Public Access Opinion 18-003, which looked at whether a municipality violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by failing to respond to a FOIA request.

The FOIA request at issue sought individual records of a public official’s meeting schedule, including “communication in regards to dates, time, place and who the meetings were with.” The municipality, simply, did not respond to the FOIA request. Two weeks later, the individual sent a Request for Review to the Public Access Bureau, prompting an inquiry by the Bureau to the municipality. However, the municipality failed to respond to the Public Access Bureau. The Assistant Attorney General then followed up with the municipality by way of a written correspondence. Again, the municipality failed to respond to the Assistant Attorney General’s written correspondence. Through the date of the Attorney General’s final decision, the municipality had not properly responded to the FOIA request.

Not surprisingly, the Attorney General determined that the municipality violated section 3(d) of FOIA by falling to respond to the request. Section 3(d) holds that public bodies shall comply with or deny a request for public records within 5 business days, unless time for the response is properly extended. Here, the municipality failed to comply, extend time, or deny the request in writing.

While this Opinion does not provide any substantive guidance, it shows that the Attorney General takes blatant violation of the FOIA seriously.


Author: Dave Noland