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Rickert sues Rauner office over ignored FOIA requests

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018

* Sun-Times

A communications staffer ousted by Gov. Bruce Rauner is accusing the governor’s office of stonewalling on requests for public information, including emails to and from first lady Diana Rauner regarding an abortion bill the governor angered conservatives by signing.

Diana Rickert — a former staffer of the conservative Illinois Policy Institute — filed the lawsuit on Jan. 5 in Cook County Circuit Court. […]

Rickert claims she filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests to the governor’s office in September and October 2017, including requests for emails sent to former chief of staff Kristina Rasmussen from state employees in the Department of Innovation and Technology, and others sent to Rasmussen “regarding internet browsing history for state employees.” […]

Rickert also asked for emails to and from Diana Rauner from June 1, 2017 that include the following terms: “abortion, HB40, reproductive rights, Personal PAC, Planned Parenthood, Terry Cosgrove.” The request included a personal email address, a state email address and one from her role with the Ounce of Prevention

Additionally, Rickert asked for emails to and from Rauner’s policy chief Michael Lucci since Aug. 25 that also included the same abortion-related search items.

Read the suit by clicking here.

Some of her requests are pretty specific, like all e-mails sent to Kristina Rasmussen on Sept. 20, 21 and 22 last year. She apparently knows what she’s looking for.

* Tribune

Rickert now works at the Liberty Justice Center and is being represented by attorneys from the organization, which is affiliated with the Illinois Policy Institute.

Jacob Huebert, the center’s director of litigation, said the lawsuit is part of the group’s “mission to protect citizens’ rights” and is aimed at requiring Rauner’s office to “comply with the law.”

A Rauner spokeswoman said the suit is “under review.”

Rickert also is seeking emails from former chief of staff Kristina Rasmussen to the state’s information technology agency as well as information about the web browsing history of state employees. The two previously worked together at the institute.

* Pritzker campaign…

“A former member of the ‘Best Team in America’ is now suing Bruce Rauner for trying hide information from the public,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “This transparency averse governor can’t even figure out how to lead his own staff, let alone our state.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - PJ - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:25 am:

    Terry must be absolutely ecstatic that his name has become a search term in this weird civil war

  2. - Mod Dem - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:30 am:

    Many of these requests are quiet easily obtained through the State’s Symantec e-Discovery tool…although the one about browsing history is too broad and likely be covered under personnel matters. There also could be a play that says that those emails are draft in policy formation and therefore not subject to FOIA.

  3. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:30 am:

    If she’s wanting emails discussing what they were going to do on legislation, wouldn’t those likely be exemptable as deliberative communication?

  4. - Wolf “The Dentist” Stansen - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:31 am:

    Not the only recent FOIA issue from the Governor’s office. They won’t even respond to FOIAs asking for FOIAs.

  5. - Fixer - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:38 am:

    For a governor who pounded the idea of “transparency “ during his campaign, he’s done a deplorable job of actually being transparent. Given the DHS records facility contract, Quincy Vets Home debacle, the outright lies regarding his family history, etc… Hang it up Governor Gaslight.

  6. - Roman - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:40 am:

    From the lawsuit:

    == On September 22, 2017, Ms. Rickert sent Governor Rauner’s office a FOIA request seeking “(a)ny or all emails sent to Kristina Rasmussen on September 20, 2017, September 21, 2017, and September 22, 2017.” ==

    She was making FOIA requests in real time — practically as the emails were being sent. Gee, do ya think there were (are) a few leakers in the Rauner administration?

  7. - Give Me A Break - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:41 am:

    Not sure she can obtain emails about legislative action or plans, for the most part, as someone said above they would be exempt. At least they have been in the past when media and others are tried to FOIA legislative emails between Gov’s and Agency legislative staff.

  8. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:42 am:

    ==Some of her requests are pretty specific, like all e-mails sent to Kristina Rasmussen on Sept. 20, 21 and 22 last year. She apparently knows what she’s looking for.==

    Whatever this is, it’s not going to end well for Bruce. If they do turn these emails over, whatever is in them will be twisted by Rickert, Ives and other conservatives. More likely the administration will not turn them over, in which case the same folks will publicly question the secrecy while at the same time spreading innuendo about the content of the emails.

  9. - Henry Francis - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:44 am:

    This is sadly routine for this administration. I’m surprised there haven’t been more lawsuits, it is Rauner’s mo - he does whatever he wants to do (whether legal or not) and will make you sue, and work your way through the courts. Catch me if you can.

    Obviously they have some skeletons to hide in this case. But in the dozens of other cases that I am aware of, sometimes their failure to respond is more a result of incompetence and disdain for government functions.

  10. - Roman - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:46 am:

    == If she’s wanting emails discussing what they were going to do on legislation, wouldn’t those likely be exemptable as deliberative communication? ==

    Maybe, but why didn’t the Rauner administration simply responding to the FOIA’s that way? Why are the just ignoring the FOIA’s since asking for an five day extension? I don’t imagine the circuit court judge who gets the case is going to look at that in a positive light.

  11. - Ahoy! - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:46 am:

    I”m fascinated by the continued war from the IPI on one of their own. This is kind of like Bannon & Trump, there aren’t going to be winners in this fight (outside of the Democrats) just who looses worse.

  12. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:49 am:

    “As a white male”, Bruce Rauner will not be happy about this.

    This is so Diana Rickert. This time, she knows exactly what she wants, who her targets are to go after, and more than likely has the canned responses to what will be found.

    Bruce and Diana Rauner bought the ILGOP brand, but also wanted the Diana Rauner brand to stand outside the ILGOP, but making quite sure the ILGOP becomes a brand that is uber-left and costal limousine liberal.

    You’d think the likes of Jim Oberweis, who demanded Pat Brady resign as state party chair for supporting SSM.


    Oberweis is fine with Diana Rauner’s makeover of the brand the RaunerS bought.

    These emails will again reinforce the phony no social agenda was designed to take conservative Republican planks and obliterate them in the governing the Rauner administration does.

    It will expose Diana Rauner’s purposeful involvement to make her branding of the Rauner Administration as far Left as possible, and push staff to endure Diana’s vision is policy.

    That… and be welcomed at cocktail parties as a hero, a hero to her own branding, not to the word of Bruce to a Catholic Cardinal or the to the party they now control.

    It’ll be interesting to read the words, sentences, paragraphs… even the phrasing and word choices outside the message…

    … all done because Diana Rickert failed those less that 50 days she was in state government.

  13. - cdog - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:52 am:

    Once these are released, we will see who writes Rauner’s talking points. We know it isn’t him. (hint–DR)

  14. - huh - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:53 am:

    Why are legislative / policy emails exempt from FOIA?

    The Attorney General regularly scolds municipalities and local governments for not disclosing minutes., records and for violations of OMA. Why are the state’s most important policy discussions exempt from OMA and FOIA - but my local discussion about sign ordinance variances is not .. ..?

  15. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:56 am:

    As a white male, I find incompetent IPI hacks running to the courts to diss on Rauner absolutely hilarious.

    Shine on you crazy diamond. If you ever have the guts to give it a shot in private sector capitalism to put bread on the table, give us a holler. I’m sure the spectacle would be entertaining.

    One request: instead of Liberty Justice Center, can we call it Justice League of America?

    I was a Marvel kid, coming up. I’m certain these IPI boo-boos live in the DC comic book universe.

  16. - People Over Parties - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:58 am:

    She did a lousy job for the Rauner administration. Now, she’s the great pro-life savior. Give me a break. Also, wasn’t she getting called out for a dishonest piece in the Trib criticizing state government?

  17. - Roman - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 10:59 am:

    Speaking of Diana Rauner’s brand, notice how she’s referred to in the Trib story:

    “Diana Rauner, who is a Democrat…”

    C’mon, Monique. She’s one of the biggest campaign donors in the history of the Illinois GOP. I think that triggers an automatic revocation of her Dem Party membership card.

    Maybe go with “Diana Rauner, a liberal Republican” next time.

  18. - Norseman - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 11:09 am:

    All this strife couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. You play with fire, you get burned.

  19. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 11:10 am:

    ==Why are legislative / policy emails exempt from FOIA?==

    Because the General Assembly didn’t want their stuff to be subject to FOIA

  20. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 11:29 am:

    Roman and Wolf,
    There’s another one in 2017, this time for Munger’s emails. How many times does the Attorney General need to scold them before it becomes official misconduct?

  21. - Political Animal - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 11:44 am:

    Pre-decisional policy discussion are and should be exempt from FOIA. If policy makers are scared that every half baked idea they have will become public, we will see even more stagnation in Government.

    Legislation is public once it is introduced as a bill, because at that point an idea has been vetted and considered somewhat thoroughly. Discussions leading up to the introduction of a bill are preliminary and shouldn’t be subject to public scrutiny.

  22. - Henry Francis - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 11:46 am:

    Poor Christina McClernon has to have her name dragged through all of this. She’s only been a lawyer for 3 years.

    Ironically, prior to joining the BTIA she was a fellow at the Liberty Justice Center appearing in court on FOIA matters.

  23. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 12:09 pm:

    How is Ms. Rauner subject to FOIA? Is she a state employee or official?

    There are smart people at the Governor’s office who can raise defenses, and sure, sn email from the Mrs to a state employee may be FOIAed, but how is all of her email subject to FOIA? And why won’t the Governor’s office defend themselves?

  24. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 12:16 pm:

    ===how is all of her email subject to FOIA?===

    She has a state email account. You could’ve found that with a simple Google search. Try that next time before asking a question here.

  25. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 12:31 pm:

    ==If policy makers are scared that every half baked idea they have will become public, we will see even more stagnation in Government. ==

    I used to think this was a fair point, but, after looking at what makes its way into tweets, stump speeches, floor debate, and even bills, I don’t think it holds water any more.

  26. - The_Equalizer - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 12:31 pm:

    The parable of the Fox and the Scorpion comes to mind…

  27. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 1:26 pm:

    === I’m certain these IPI boo-boos live in the DC comic book universe.

    Wordslinger is correct here–the DC villains are a bit over the top as is IPI.

  28. - anon - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 1:32 pm:

    This has to be just the beginning.

  29. - Dirty Red - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 1:49 pm:

    Hope you are feeling better, Rich.

  30. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 3:43 pm:

    As specific as the FOIA requests are, I suspect they already have unauthorized copies of the emails. The whole purpose of the requests is to get “official” copies for various uses …

  31. - MyTwoCents - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 5:05 pm:

    This post reminds me of a tweet from Mark Maxwell back in late December where basically he said former Rauner administration officials told him it was basically policy to delay responses to FOIAs as much as possible.

  32. - yinn - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 5:16 pm:

    ==Pre-decisional policy discussion are and should be exempt from FOIA.==

    Sure. But that doesn’t necessarily exempt an entire email. If there is non-exempt material in it, the FOIA officer sends it out with exempt material redacted. As someone else noted, the lack of any type of response is problematic.

  33. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 10, 18 @ 5:44 pm:

    –As specific as the FOIA requests are, I suspect they already have unauthorized copies of the emails. The whole purpose of the requests is to get “official” copies for various uses …–

    Agreed. And the specificity of the requests makes it obvious who gave them to her.

    Why go through the charade then? Rauner isn’t going to sue over some confidentiality agreement. Just go with it.

    No fury like IPI types fired.

  34. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 6:25 am:

    === I’m certain these IPI boo-boos live in the DC comic book universe.

    Wordslinger is correct here–the DC villains are a bit over the top as is IPI.

    In the mid-70s, DC published a comic titled “The Secret Society of Super Villians” — but when discussing IPI, that seems a little on the nose.

    – MrJM

  35. - Amazed - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 8:47 am:

    Diana Rickert has always shown a personal need for validation and her remarkable failure, during her very short tenure with the Governor’s office, is most likely driving this. What an absolute waste of time and resources.

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