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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2 PAC Binding Opinions Find Public Bodies in Violation of FOIA

We have two new PAC binding opinions, both dealing with FOIA, and both finding the public body in violation of that statute.  The opinions are summarized below:

The PAC determined that the Illinois Department of Lottery violated FOIA by redacting financial information from contracts with the company that operates the state lottery.  Information that was redacted related to annual and monthly fees, pricing, and compensation paid to the contractor to operate the lottery.  The PAC rejected the state’s argument that this information was considered “confidential data” under the Illinois Lottery Act, and also found that it did not qualify as proprietary or financial information under Section 7(1)(g) of FOIA.  The PAC also rejected the contractor’s argument that confidentiality provisions in the state’s contract with the contractor prohibited release of the confidential data.  

The PAC determined that Chicago State University violated FOIA by failing to provide public records in its possession to a requester.  Specifically, the requester asked the university to release information relating to the specific amount of money that was collected at a Homecoming dance and how that money was housed and appropriated.  The university had denied the request, stating that the records are not records of a “public body” under FOIA because the records were records of the Student Government Association.  The university further argued that the records are not related to the “transaction of public business” to constitute public records under FOIA.  The PAC rejected the university’s arguments.  First, the PAC determined that because the SGA had distributed the records to the university, they were in the university’s possession and, therefore, subject to release.  Second, the PAC found that the university controls the funding of student associations, including the SGA, because of language in a student association publication that states that funds remaining in a student association account  that are not expended by the end of the fiscal year revert to the university.  

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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