An Illinois newspaper filed a lawsuit against Gov. Bruce Rauner this week over his administration's refusal to hand over information contained in his appointment calendar. The Illinois Times' lawsuit comes after the Illinois Attorney General's office determined that the information has to be released under the state's open records law.
In May, the newspaper requested documents via the Illinois Freedom of Information Act showing Rauner's appointments from April 1 to May 14 of this year. The newspaper requested such information in an effort to figure out where Rauner went after he left an annual Holocaust memorial service early last spring.
The administration later provided the newspaper with the governor's appointment calendar, but "significant portions" were redacted, the lawsuit says.
The information was redacted, in part, because the administration argued that releasing it could pose a security risk to the governor. Another argument from the Rauner administration was that the calendar's information was preliminary and did not have to be release.
In its decision issued Tuesday, Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office disagreed with the administration's claims and said the complete information from the appointment calendar must be released under the state's FOIA law.
"[T]his office's review of the redacted entries indicates that they all appear to pertain to the business of the state, rather than the personal affairs or private business interests of the governor," reads the decision from the attorney general's office. "Because the governor's calendar was prepared and is maintained by the governor's office and pertains to public business, it is a public record of the governor's office for purposes of the Illinois FOIA."
Though the attorney general's office says the information must be released, it can't force the governor's office to turn over the documents. That's why the newspaper is now suing to obtain the full information from the appointment calendar.
The suit says the "governor's office intentionally and in bad faith violated the FOIA when it withheld significant portions of the governor's appointment calendar despite the fact that no exemption applies to the redacted information" and "the redacted information concerns the transaction of public business and the expenditure of public resources."