CARLINVILLE, IL. (ECWd) -
With all of the purposeful hiding of public records lately, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to consider whether or not Carlinville's Mayor Deanna Demuzio is using her position as Mayor, with the ability to direct the city attorney, to deny FOIA requests as part of an overall campaign strategy in her bid to be reelected as Mayor of Carlinville.
If this is part of a campaign strategy, is it not the use public funds (money for the attorney), and public property (the public records) for private purposes, and a constitutional violation?
Demuzio is an experienced politician and she should know that this type of behavior, if not illegal, certainly has the appearance of being highly improper.
The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (adopted by the city under Ord. No. 1495) defines "Campaign for elective office" as "ANY activity in furtherance of an effort to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment . . . to a local public office. . ."
Is withholding public records an activity in furtherance of her election to public office? We believe it is - especially since the city had absolutely no problems answering a couple FOIA requests sent from me to them last summer - and they answered them on time. Now that it is close to an election, they refuse to answer by claiming I am a commercial requester (which I am not).
Is the withholding of public records an act of intimidation as defined in the Illinois Criminal Code? It defines it as "...take action as a public official against anyone or anything, or withhold official action, or cause such action or withholding..." (Class 3 felony).
Would it be out of line to to conclude that Mayor Demuzio has, as a public official, withheld official action (the action of providing public records to a FOIA requester) and/or has caused the withholding of official action (directing the attorney to fight production of public records) and that she is doing this in furtherance of her campaign to become reelected as mayor of Carlinville?
These are some of those questions people rarely ask, but it begs looking into. This appears to be no different than sending campaign emails using public computers or having campaign rallies in city hall. It is all property of the public and therefore cannot be used to further a campaign, either outright or through the possible deceptive withholding of public records.