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One standard for Democrats, another for Republicans

Thursday, Jun 26, 2014

* When operatives for Democratic state treasurer candidate Sen. Michael Frerichs sent Freedom on Information requests to the Illinois House Clerk for lots of files on his GOP opponent Rep. Tom Cross, the House complied. But Cross’ people have asked for most of the same documents from the majority Democratic Senate and have been denied.

In addition to those other documents, the Cross campaign also asked for this stuff

In a follow-up request from the Cross consultant, KEVIN WRIGHT, he asked the Senate for any electronic or paper correspondence from Frerichs related to a couple of controversies. One is the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative pushed by Gov. PAT QUINN and now under investigation by authorities including the Legislative Audit Commission; the other is “hiring practices and/or recommendations” involving the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The NRI, an anti-violence program in which more than $50 million was pledged toward fighting violence in Chicago, was announced shortly before the 2010 gubernatorial election. It has been the subject of a highly critical state audit citing lax spending controls. And some IDOT hiring over recent years has been criticized as improper patronage.

In a June 6 letter to Wright, of Old Dominion Research Group, Alexandria, Virginia, ERIC MADIAR, the freedom of information officer for the Senate and chief legal counsel to Senate President JOHN CULLERTON, D-Chicago, called the request for information “unduly burdensome,” as it would involve years of emails and other records.

“We extend to you another opportunity to narrow your request to a suitable scope and time frame,” he said.

Madiar also wrote that the communications requested of Frerichs regarding IDOT and NRI either are not “public records” under state law, or would be subject to an exemption to disclosure as being part of a “deliberative process.” That exemption, he said, “protects the communications process, encourages frank and open discussions within state government, and it protects deliberative communications pertaining to government action.”

The Cross people are understandably upset about this, particularly since President Cullerton is Frerichs’ single largest donor this year.

* The Senate Democrats’ response

RIKEESHA PHELON, spokeswoman for Cullerton, said, “We asked that they narrow the scope of the initial request that includes documentation that spans eight years. In response, they broadened the request to include documents that are not considered public records. We are still awaiting a response to (the) third letter that we sent to the opposition research company so that we can prepare the documents that can be released by law.”

Asked about the apparent different responses between the House and Senate to somewhat similar requests under the same law, Phelon said, “Different chamber, different process, different lawyers.”


Welcome to Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Apacolypse Now - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 10:13 am:

    Just another example of why people have lost faith and trust in government at all levels.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 10:15 am:

    @FakeMikeFrerichs - being a shrinking violet also means others stonewalling for me, while throwing stones myself. #NoHeightRequirementForHypocrisy

  3. - Ahoy! - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    “Different chamber, different process, different lawyers.”

    Different party… they could at least be honest with us and just say it’s political, that would be the decent thing to do.

  4. - Langhorne - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    This may come as a shock, but my understanding is that LIS does not archive emails. So, unless the senate, and the dem caucus in particular, retains emails locally, it would be impossible to go back years.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    @FakeMikeFrerichs - I want to open the books on Illinois finances, but close you fingers on looking into anything about me. #WorstHideAndSeekPlayerEver #TooTall

  6. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 10:24 am:

    @FakeMikeFrerichs - I will answer ever single question, every one, you have for me, that I want to answer #SelectiveAnswering #SelevtiveDodging

  7. - walker - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    Would be interesting to know if Sen. Dillard had the same protections from Rauner’s opps crew. Guessing he did.

  8. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 10:27 am:

    Wouldn’t they all be public records? What “private records” are the Senate holding on to?

    Stupid politics by the Senate Dems. Makes it look like there’s something to hide.

  9. - Rick - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    I don’t know…looks like the requests were not as similiar as the story makes it seem. Cross asked for emails and electronic correspondence regarding specific issues, while Frerichs asked mostly for payroll and expense records, right?

    Don’t get me wrong, I think all of it should be released under FOIA, but there does seem to be some differences in what was requested.

  10. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    –Sigh. Welcome to Illinois. –

    The sigh is the great accomplishment of Madigan and the Combine. We’re beaten dogs and that’s about as much as we can manage at things like this. Or as Wordslinger would put it, if it doesn’t make you leave Illinois, how bad can it be?

  11. - fed up - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    Power corrupts, and the DEMS have complete power everday is example after example of how corrupt they have become.

  12. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 11:20 am:

    The electorate is up in arms! Furious, I tell you!

    Why just today I saw a whole bunch of Illinois voters……..snore.

  13. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 11:23 am:

    I got an invitation to Sen. Frerichs’ golf outing that happens yesterday.

    I guess I should have gone to ask him about it?

    If I get Cross to invite me to play Fox Bend, I’ll ask about the double standard and report back…

  14. - A guy... - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    John C only does what he’s forced to do. SOP with him. No one holds him accountable….so he isn’t. Not news.

  15. - capjunkie - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    The Speaker’s lawyer answered the FOIA request properly and the President’s lawyer didn’t, but the conclusion is that it’s politics and people blame Madigan? That makes no sense.

  16. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    == “Different chamber, different process, different lawyers.” ==

    And yet, the same standard is supposed to apply according to the letter and intent of the law.

    Rikeesha is very good at her job, but she just publicly admitted the process being used by the Senate is flawed, inconsistent and possibly biased.

  17. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    @FakeMikeFrerichs - I want Cross to have every document I think he should have. I’ll let Cross know what those are when he asks. #ShrinkingVioletsHateSunshine

  18. - A guy... - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 1:50 pm:

    Yardage markers are missing from 3 golf courses. The FOIA couldn’t be more clear.

  19. - summertimeblues - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 2:35 pm:

    == Rikeesha is very good at her job, but she just publicly admitted the process being used by the Senate is flawed, inconsistent and possibly biased. ==

    I dont think she admitted anything. Her statement is accurate. Unless the FOIA requestor names specific documents, the responder must subjectively determine what the person wants. different lawyers could have different views of what the person asked for.

    Plus it sounds like the requests weren’t for the same exact information. If that was the case, then I see a problem.

  20. - Dr Macgyver - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 3:58 pm:

    It is no wonder that ILL is the second highest volume of voters that are fleeing this sad state. I’m out of here, once I can save up some money. (Highest taxes I have ever seen!)

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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