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Rauner ordered to turn over e-mails

Thursday, Oct 11, 2018

* 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.

Go read the whole thing. It’s a well-written, informative story.

* The attorney general issued one of those rare binding opinions this week

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

- Posted by Rich Miller        

20 Comments »
  1. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 1:27 pm:

    Mrs. Rauner does NOT want her brand tarnished.

    Mrs. Rauner has been the silent hand in many, many things… especially all things phony…. including Diana being a phony Democrat.

    Bruce has no social agenda… Bruce has Diana’s social agenda… these emails might confirm to the masses… Diana isn’t who she wants others to think she is…

    … and Diana’s brand will take this hit.


  2. - Seats - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 1:34 pm:

    So he has 35 days from October 9th to make his decision? Seems likely that he sits on this until after the election I would think.


  3. - Ole' Nelson - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 1:40 pm:

    Didn’t candidate Rauner promise us the most transparent administration in Illinois government history?


  4. - JS Mill - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 2:01 pm:

    If people knew the extent of Diana Rauner’s behind the scenes influence they would be shocked.

    Diana Rauner was not elected to anything, yet she has impacted the lives of many Illinois schools and students in a very real, and very serious manner.


  5. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 2:04 pm:

    He is above the law. He won’t comply


  6. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 2:08 pm:

    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.


  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 2:09 pm:

    By the time he is ordered by a court to turn them over, they will have to be translated from Italian..


  8. - Real - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 2:10 pm:

    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.


  9. - Flynn's Mom - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 2:13 pm:

    His arrogance and his wife’s arrogance nauseate me. She has had her hand in his destructive policies and decision making since day one. OW nailed it in both of his comments.


  10. - wondering - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 2:21 pm:

    FOIA responses are for the little people


  11. - Been There - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 2:21 pm:

    === 1,783 emails, which it still found unduly burdensome====
    Put an intern on it. It’s not rocket science to figure out what the gist of an email is. Done in a couple of days.


  12. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 2:25 pm:

    ===they will have to be translated from===

    Restaurant quality.


  13. - Been There - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 2:33 pm:

    ===A black governor would never get away with holding the budget hostage, not paying govt employees despite court orders, or withholding emails.===

    If the elections goes the way the polls show, the rich white man with privilege won’t be getting away with it either. Just saying.


  14. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 2:52 pm:

    === 1,783 emails, which it still found unduly burdensome====

    Oh please. Round up some those political payrollers stashed in the agencies.


  15. - Henry Francis - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 2:58 pm:

    ==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.==

    Just DoIT


  16. - Supreme Allied Commander - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 4:12 pm:

    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.


  17. - potato - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 4:14 pm:

    It’s about time someone called Rauner out on his fake transparency. Governor Transparent has been anything but. Too bad this binding opinion happened so late in his term.


  18. - A Jack - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 5:10 pm:

    What is there to redact? This isn’t national security. I doubt if there is anything “secret” in these emails, just embarrassing stuff Rauner doesn’t want known.


  19. - Rabid - Thursday, Oct 11, 18 @ 8:55 pm:

    Ask Russia for both the Rauners emails


  20. - Stumpy's bunker - Friday, Oct 12, 18 @ 8:13 am:

    “Transparency”. May I add that to the list of lies?


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