* ProPublica takes a look at the attorney general’s public access counselor, known as the PAC…
The PAC’s heavy caseload is one reason the office rarely uses its full authority to order compliance with the transparency acts. Under the laws, the PAC has 60 days to issue a binding opinion. If the case is too complicated to make that deadline, or if the PAC’s attorneys aren’t able to move faster, the most the office can do is issue an opinion that’s nonbinding.
And binding opinions are rare. While closing 26,000 cases through mid-August, the PAC only used the weight of the law to issue binding opinions in 127 of them — less than half of one percent of the total. And four of those opinions sided with government bodies blocking the public from information.
Officials in the attorney general’s office said they issue binding opinions on issues of broad public interest, and each one is researched to ensure it could withstand a court challenge.
“Our binding opinions in particular we’ve been exceedingly careful about,” [Ann Spillane, the attorney general’s chief of staff] said. “We’ve only been overturned once. We thought it would be a devastating blow to our credibility if we didn’t have success with the courts.” […]
Spillane said the office has “struggled” to decide the best way to deal with public agencies that ignore requests or PAC opinions, opting in most cases for the “ask again and again and again” approach. But the office has started to respond more forcefully with binding opinions, she said.
The state attorney general has found the governor violated the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to turn over emails on his decision-making process on government appointments to One Illinois.
The office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan ordered Gov. Rauner in a binding opinion issued Tuesday to turn over 1,783 identified emails on appointments to various state boards and other bodies.
One Illinois first made the request in June for emails from either Rauner or his wife, Diana Rauner, on a series of issues. Told by the Governor’s Office that there were none applicable for the governor, One Illinois narrowed the scope of the request in July and focused instead on emails to or from seven current or former state employees on appointments to 13 state boards, councils, and commissions, and narrowed the scope additionally after that.
The Governor’s Office nonetheless replied that was “unduly burdensome,” and that it could not identify specific search terms to narrow the focus, even though there’s nothing in state FOIA law requiring adequate terms for a search. […]
At that point, on Aug. 10, One Illinois asked the Office of the Attorney General to review the FOIA process. The Public Access Bureau asked the Governor’s Office for an explanation, a request that at first was ignored entirely. On Aug. 29, the bureau repeated the request, and eventually the Governor’s Office revealed it had found 44,536 “potentially responsive emails,” but that narrowing the focus with the search term “appoint” had produced 1,783 emails, which it still found unduly burdensome and not of sufficient public interest to merit the work required to redact and otherwise process them.
The binding opinion is here. The governor can challenge the order, but he’ll have to sue the attorney general to do it.
* This One Illinois explainer video is very good. The FOIA basically focuses on Mrs. Rauner’s impact on the appointment process in the wake of the governor’s hiring of several Illinois Policy Institute staffers…
The best explanation of Diana Rauner is she is the president of a social service, paid to help Republicans cripple social services to force labor’s destruction… and all the while doing that, got the Pritzkers and JB Pritzker to donate $5 million to *her* social service… and then has her own money be used to call JB Pritzker a “criminal”
It’s a business decision, I know, but…
The influence on branding, policy, messaging, and… not changing bad policy, but selling bad policy better… by dismissing the “Superstars” for the “BTIA(tm)”… Diana Rauner is as much at fault to Bruce’s downturn than any staffer dismissed, fired, or who quit.
That’s not gonna be great for Diana’s brand.
So, these emails, I’m guessing they ain’t flattering for Diana and her brand.
Rauner has publicly evaded the law numerous times. And the media seems to bat an eye each time. I guess it’s one of the perks of rich white man privilege. A black governor would never get away with holding the budget hostage, not paying govt employees despite court orders, or withholding emails.
==the Governor’s Office revealed it had found 44,536 “potentially responsive emails,” but that narrowing the focus with the search term “appoint” had produced 1,783 emails, which it still found unduly burdensome and not of sufficient public interest to merit the work required to redact and otherwise process them.==
In Rauner’s first campaign he promised unprecedented state government transparency. However he and his administration and agencies have made stonewalling FOIA document requests their default setting. They have suffocated the hard fought presumption of openness of public records established by Gov. Quinn. And, Lisa Madigan’s office has been a very big disappointment with its weak, lax, ineffectual enforcement of FOIA. Madigan’s office has failed to hold Rauner accountable.