City improperly claimed FOIA request was for commercial
CARLINVILLE (Aug. 9, 2018) – Illinois Assistant Attorney General Edie Steinberg announced recently that the Public Access Bureau determined the city of Carlinville acted improperly by classifying a Feb. 15, 2017, Freedom of Information Act request from John Kraft as being for a commercial purpose.
In the determination, issued Aug. 2, Steinberg explained that Kraft submitted a four-part FOIA request on the above-mentioned date, “seeking copies of training certificates for FOIA officers and assistants, Open Meetings Act training certificates for City Council members and the Mayor, credit and debit card statements, and City Council meeting minutes for the last six months.” City Attorney Daniel Schuering responded on the city’s behalf on March 17, 2017, informing Kraft that the city was treating his request as being made for a commercial purpose and requiring him to pay fees in full before they would respond to his request.
Kraft submitted a request for review to the Public Access Bureau on March 24; four days later, the Attorney General’s Office forwarded the request to the city, seeking a “detailed explanation of the legal and factual bases for designating the request as being for a commercial purpose.” According to Steinberg, the city did not respond, so another letter was sent on May 9, 2017, requesting a response within seven days, which was not received. “To date, this office has not received a response to our March 28, 2017, or May 9, 2017, letters or any information indicating that the City no longer considered Mr. Kraft’s February 15, 2017, FOIA request as a commercial request,” said Steinberg.
As a result, Steinberg continued, “This office has not received any information demonstrating that Mr. Kraft intended to use the records requested, or information derived therefrom, for sale, resale, or solicitation or advertisement for sales or services, or that he did not fall within one of the enumerated exceptions… Accordingly, this office concludes that the City improperly treated Mr. Kraft’s February 15, 2017, FOIA request as seeking records for a commercial purpose.”
Steinberg went on to say that the Public Access Counselor has determined “resolution of this matter does not require issuance of a binding opinion” and the file is now closed.
Carlinville Mayor Deanna Demuzio referred to Attorney Dan Schuering for comment; Schuering did not respond prior to press time.