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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Governor's Calendar Subject to Release Under FOIA

The PAC recently issued a binding opinion finding the Governor's office in violation of FOIA for redacting certain information from his calendar. PAC Op. 15-008.  A newspaper reporter had requested a copy of the Governor's calendar for a two month time-period. The requested records were released to the reporter, but certain entries were redacted per the exemptions in sections 7(1)(f) and 7(1)(m) of FOIA.
The reporter filed a request for review with the PAC, arguing that (1) the Governor did not respond within the required statutory time period and (2) improperly redacted names of individuals identified in the calendar. The Governor argued that the redacted calendars were not public records for purpose of FOIA because it was meant as a personal aid for the Governor.
The PAC rejected the Governor's arguments, finding first that the Governor failed to comply with the 5 day time period for response.  Second, the PAC rejected the argument that the calendar was not a public record, finding that the calendar was prepared by the Governor's office and pertains to public business. Third, the PAC rejected the Governor's argument that disclosing details of the Governor's calendar constitutes a security concern. The PAC also rejected his argument that the calendar and its entries constituted "predecisional deliberative material" that would be exempt under 7(1)(f). Finally, the PAC did not accept the Governor's argument that meetings with legal counsel constituted an "attorney-client communication" protected by 7(1)(m).
In short, the PAC found the Governor in violation of FOIA and ordered him to turn over his unredacted calendar to the reporter.
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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