Obama records, Illinois FOIA, Governor Mike Easley, NC governor, lawsuit, NC Public Records Law

The US government has a  Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). States have their own version of the FOIA. Illinois has a FOIA. NC has the NC Public Records Law.

Apparently there are public officials in this country that do not take the FOIA acts seriously or believe they will not be punished. There was an article in the Charlotte Observer on Tuesday April 15, 2008. The Charlotte Observer and nine other NC news organizations have sued Governor Mike Easley over his administration’s deletion of official government emails. This is a violation of NC Public Records Law. Easley is accused of “the systematic deletion, destruction or concealment of email messages sent from or received by the Governor’s Office.” Sound familiar?

Barack Obama has been a licensed attorney in the state of
Illinois since the early nineties and was a associate attorney
with Miner, Barnhill and Galland from 1993 to 2002.

Barack Obama also taught law part-time at the University of Chicago Law School from 1993 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

Barack Obama was a member of the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004.

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act
pro-disclosure statute was originally enacted on July 1, 1984.

The following is the position of the state of Illinois as stated
by the Illinois Attorney General:

“It is the public policy of this State that public bodies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business and that the people have a right to be informed as to the conduct of their business.”

“Attorney General Lisa Madigan believes that an open, honest and accountable government, the cornerstone of a democracy, can only be achieved through the free and open exchange of information between government and its citizens. Both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Open Meetings Act (OMA) endeavor to open the workings of government to the public, shed light on government actions and, in the process, strengthen our democracy. Similarly, the newly enacted government ethics laws are intended to increase government accountability. The Office of the Attorney General is committed to ensuring compliance with these laws and increasing awareness by both the public and public officials of their rights and obligations under them.”

Barack Obama has violated the letter of the law
and spirit of the Illinois FOIA.

Obama refused to supply information on one occasion when he
stated:

In a Tribune interview Thursday, the Illinois Democrat said he had no intention of sharing any of the documents he might still have in his possession.”

“The problem is whatever remaining documents I have are inevitably incomplete. And then the questions going to be, where’s this or where’s that. Once I start heading down that road, then it puts me in a position that could end up being misleading. I don’t want to mislead people. I don’t know the extent of the records that I have as a state senator.”
 
Obama has also either ignored requests for his records or given
evasive answers:

The Chicago Tribune has reported that it “requested documents from his time in Springfield and never received a response.”

In an interview with Tim Russert:

“MR. RUSSERT:  You talked about Senator Clinton having records released from the Clinton Library regarding her experience as first lady, and yet when you were asked about, “What about eight years in the state senate of Illinois,” you said, “I don’t know.” Where, where are the—where are your records?

SEN. OBAMA:  Tim, we did not keep those records.  I…

MR. RUSSERT:  Is your schedule available anywhere?  Are—the records exist?

SEN. OBAMA:  I—Tim, I kept my own schedule.  I didn’t have a scheduler.

MR. RUSSERT:  Senator Durbin, your colleague, publishes his schedule each day.  Would you do that?

SEN. OBAMA:  Well, you know, these days I have a public presidential schedule that I think everybody has access to.”
It is obvious that Barack Obama has violated the Illinois
FOIA Law by his failure to produce records that he has and has
violated the spirit of the law and policies of the State of
Illinois by his cavalier, evasive and irresponsible conduct.

I contacted the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. This is the response that I got:

 

Dear Mr. Wells,

 

Thank you for writing to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan with your questions related to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140. I am responding via electronic mail as that is the form that you have contacted me.

 

 The Illinois Senate is subject to the state Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140. Please be advised that a public body is required to respond to a request for information pursuant to this Act within seven working days. The response must be in writing. In limited circumstances, a public body can invoke an additional seven working days to respond to a request. 5 ILCS 140/3(c). If a public body denies a request for information, it must do so in writing and specifically cite the section of the Act that authorizes a public body to withhold documents. 5 ILCS 140/9(b).  Additionally, the public body must provide the requestor with the name of the individual responsible for the denial and inform the requestor of his or her right to appeal a denial. The response must include the name and address of the head of the public body to whom the denial can be forwarded.

 

You would address your request to the Clerk of the Illinois Senate, Illinois Capitol, 2nd and Capitol, Springfield, IL 62706.

 

Respectfully,

 

 

Terry Mutchler

Public Access Counselor

Assistant Attorney General

I will keep you informed. 






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