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May 20, 2024

Clark County Park District directed their attorney investigate and pursue action against FOIA requester – because they don’t like what she writes about them –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On April 22, 2016


When I was first informed of this, I initially thought there was no way any public body would even think of this. This board is turning into a freak-show. Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if you could silence your critics? (said no freedom loving American…ever)

At their April 21, 2016 meeting, the Clark County Park District, at the urging of Park Commissioners Ron Stone, Terry Stepp, Glen Kuehnel, and Joe Ewing, directed the Park District attorney, Lorna Geiler, of Meyer-Capel out of Champaign, Illinois, to “investigate Lisa” – the FOIA requester…because they don’t like what she writes about them…

The evil FOIA requester has recently been requesting public records through the Freedom of Information Act from the district, and has taken information gleaned from those public records, writing opinion pieces about those public records, and posting those opinions on the evil internets for all peoples to read.

The district “claims” they have spent over $20,000.00 in legal fees – however, please keep in mind that FOIA requests do not require an attorney to supervise, and if the FOIA law had been followed properly, there would have been no reason for Lisa to take them to court to get access to public records. So, in our opinion, the legal fees are of their own making.

The district “claims” they have produced more than 10,000 pages of documents in response to FOIA requests from Lisa – we have asked for proof of that claim and doubt the district can provide any substantial proof.

The district “claims” the director has spent $10,000.00 in time responding to FOIA requests – we have asked for proof of that statement also, and doubt substantial proof can be provided.

There are other wild claims and accusations coming out of last night’s meeting, and we will respond when the videos finish uploading, with a detailed response.

“Authorizing the Investigation”

Watchdog Questions:

  • What public purpose does it serve to investigate a FOIA requester and blogger because you believe she is bullying, harassing, and defaming the Park District Director? Wouldn’t that be a private matter, as opposed to a public matter?
  • Where in the law does it give authorization for a park district to investigate someone for exercising her First Amendment Right?
  • Where in the law does it give authorization for a park district to investigate someone for using the Freedom of Information Act?
  • How does the district keep any personal claims separate from government claims – including funds expended to investigate the legality of those alleged claims – because we all know public funds cannot be used to advance a personal civil suit should it go that route?

–  Have Commissioners Ron Stone, Terry Stepp, Glen Kuehnel, and Joe Ewing, with the assistance and guidance of their attorney, violated the Illinois Criminal Code, Intimidation (definition changed in 2011)?

Sec. 12-6. Intimidation. 
   (a) A person commits intimidation when, with intent to cause another to perform or to omit the performance of any act, he or she communicates to another, directly or indirectly by any means, a threat to perform without lawful authority any of the following acts: 

(6) Take action as a public official against anyone or anything, or withhold official action, or cause such action or withholding; or

(b) Sentence.

Intimidation is a Class 3 felony for which an offender may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 2 years and not more than 10 years. 

Surely, in our opinion, criminal intimidation has already occurred by the action(s) already taken by these public officials (in a public meting) against Lisa – by [threatening to] investigate her for simply submitting FOIA requests for public records, developing an opinion on those public records, and exercising her First Amendment right to publish her opinions – with the express stated intent (it is on the video) to cause her to omit the performance of her constitutional rights.

More information to follow…

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  • Dave L.
    Posted at 22:16h, 22 April

    What?? Investigate and pursue?? Investigate what exactly, a voter/citizen exercising her rights? This will go nowhere. Majority of the board acting like the crybabies they are..

  • Ed
    Posted at 07:57h, 23 April

    The Clark County S/A has his hads full gouging the young man who recorded the kitten killings. He can’t be bothered with elected officials’ unlawful conduct.

  • Tax Paying Citizen
    Posted at 09:07h, 23 April

    If the park board does not approve of the citizens expressing their concerns/asking for public documents then tell the park board that I want my hard earned taxes back b/c even though I hate what the park board is doing they seem to continue to get my property tax money. If the board doesn’t want to hear from the tax payers then give me my money back!

  • Warren J. Le Fever
    Posted at 10:03h, 23 April

    I like the words “freak-show” to describe this behavior. Such attempts at intimidation need to be taken to Springfield and get some laws on the books to control what public bodies do with lawyers. Investigation actions without real reasonable cause are a waste of time. Such investigations run up huge tabs in lawyer expenses making up worthless accusations that won’t succeed in court. The idea is to intimidate the person investigated. That might have worked 10 years ago, but not today. Lisa needs to get herself a good lawyer THAT WILL FIGHT FOR HER and see what options most like to succeed in litigation against her “investigators” she has. Since I have had the experience of such an “Investigation”, my advice to Lisa is keep doing what you are doing because the investigation effort by the park board itself is a sure sign you are being truthful. time for other agencies to look into what she has uncovered and do something about the Park Board.

  • jannie
    Posted at 16:14h, 23 April

    I believe this kind of behavior of Park Districts & Park Boards is not only in this county – I have seen similar (though not quite as bad) behavior in another county.
    These people seem to forget that they work for the public.
    The amount of money claimed to be spent is unbelievable. Why is a director going through the records, a clerk could look through the records. There’s no need for a lawyer.

  • Concerned Citizen
    Posted at 08:42h, 27 April

    Doesn’t this fall under the anti-slapp legislation ??
    I mean a government body going after a citizen who speaks out and they then sue would definitely qualify …

    • Lisa N. Thomas
      Posted at 16:34h, 27 April

      It will fall under slapp legislation IF they actually file anything. They are just making empty threats to do things they do not have the authority to do. The park district cannot file a lawsuit on the behalf of Charity Murphy or anyone else who the think I am bullying or harrassing. They can threaten all they want. They are just making themselves look like the complete idiots they are. And they are using taxpayers money to do it!