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Transparency ... unless your name Is Lisa Madigan

By Blinn Bates

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[December 17, 2013]  Anyone who has ever dealt with a public entity is probably familiar with the Freedom of Information Act. A portion of the Illinois FOIA states: "The General Assembly hereby declares that it is the public policy of the State of Illinois that access by all persons to public records promotes the transparency and accountability of public bodies at all levels of government. It is a fundamental obligation of government to operate openly and provide public records as expediently and efficiently as possible in compliance with this Act."

If there is a dispute with respect to a request made under the FOIA, the attorney general's office, more specifically the public access counselor, is charged with ruling on the dispute.

Recently, I was reading a blog post about yet another decision the PAC made in favor of a requester and against the municipality. Since I receive the post via email, a related link at the bottom of the email caught my eye. It was entitled "FOIA Request for Attorney General Records Denied as Unduly Burdensome." The entire post is available at:

The gist of the case was that the attorney general received a FOIA request, denied the request and then rubber-stamped their own denial as appropriate.

Anything about that seem strange? All I can think of is Lloyd telling Harry that you "can't triple-stamp a double-stamp." "Dumb and Dumber" may be horrendously stupid comedy, but their logic is now being cited as legal authority by our state government.

To make it even worse, the circuit court and the appellate court agreed with the attorney general with no mention of the conflict. Although the reasoning of the courts was fairly sound, the blatant conflict of interest here is mind-shattering.

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Let's take this a step further. Connie Citizen files a FOIA request with the State of Illinois Redundancy Department of the State of Illinois. The Redundancy Department denies Connie's request, knowing that the disclosure of the requested records would be very damaging to the Redundancy Department if they were to be sued by Connie. The attorney general then rubber-stamps the denial. Isn't that the same attorney general that would be representing the Redundancy Department if they were to be sued by Connie Citizen?

Seems to me that the language in the act stating "accountability of public bodies at all levels of government" does not apply to the highest level of government at all. But, then again, if the state government had to operate with transparency, how could they continue to have such a stellar record of efficiency?

Want some real enlightenment? Take a look at the yearly salary of our illustrious attorney general and the amount of money she has spent to convince the unsuspecting citizens that she knows what she is doing. Mind-blowing stuff.

I am still anxiously awaiting a response from Ms. Madigan to a letter I sent her in March of this year. Maybe she will shed some light on this subject at the same time.


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