Illinois Attorney General Issues Two Binding Decisions Concerning FOIA

Author: Jacob D. Caudill
July 24, 2017

This month, the Attorney General’s Office released two binding Public Access Opinions concerning Illinois’s Freedom of Information Act. Specifically, both opinions (the eighth and ninth of 2017) concern a public body’s duty to respond to FOIA requests. Notably, one of the public bodies involved  is the Office of Governor Bruce Rauner.

In both opinions, FOIA requests were sent seeking a variety of records. The request sent to the Governor’s office sought “emails that Deputy Governor Leslie Munger sent or received since she became Deputy Governor; and Munger’s daily schedule for the next six months.” The public bodies in both matters never released the requested records and failed to respond to the inquiries of the Public Access Counselor as to the status of the FOIA request.

As such, the Attorney General’s Office determined that both public bodies violated Section 3(d) of the FOIA, which requires that “[e]ach public body shall, promptly, either comply with or deny a request for public records within 5 business days after its receipt of the request, unless the time of the response is properly extended.”

While these opinions do not provide any new guidance, they do show that the Attorney General’s Office will not hesitate to issue a binding opinion against those that ignore Illinois’s FOIA, even the Governor’s Office.

Author: Jacob D. Caudill