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April 16, 2024

ATTN Public Officials: Details on how to get sued over public records requests-

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On July 19, 2019


Here are some ways to invite a lawsuit for violating the Freedom of Information Act:

EDIT: The linked photos are not showing when you click on them, and we are working on fixing that problem.

  • Post on Facebook how you will skin a cat, wrap it in an FOIA request and roast it in a bonfire (here)
  • Post a sign on the door stating you will provide no copies of anything pertaining to the Village until further notice (here)
  • Take a photo of shredded papers and brag to shredding evidence (here)
  • Post a photo of a fire and tell an FOIA requester that is what happened to his FOIA request (here)
  • Ignore FOIA requests like they never even happened (here)
  • Tell the Board they don’t have to comply and try to prove the requester is not media and not a nonprofit (here)
  • Try to make the requester pay someone else’s illegal invoice before giving up the requested records (here)
  • Say you cannot release the record when your real intent is to wait it out until after the election (here)
  • Miss the deadline, try and get a court to seal the records, provide inapplicable exemptions (here)
  • Fail to provide all the records while not considering a whistleblower may have provided them unofficially prior to the FOIA request (here)
  • Claim security video is exempt, claim employee key-card building entry data is exempt (here)
  • Answer late, blame it on the state budget impasse (here)
  • Deny records, then spend $480,000 fighting in court, only to lose (here)
  • Say the records don’t exist, then give those same records to a different FOIA requester (here)
  • Ignore FOIA requests and tell people at a TOI Conference your mission is to prove the watchdogs are not media, then use taxpayer funds to try and subpoena their documents from them, and lose twice (here)
  • Extend the deadline twice, then post a photo of a USB drive on Facebook while asking how many viruses you can fit on it before giving it back to the FOIA requester (here and here)
  • Deny the township has the video, then show up in court a couple of weeks later with a copy of that video for someone else (FOIA lawsuit forthcoming)
  • Hire an attorney that invokes unduly burdensome exemption routinely but fails to offer any chance to narrow the request or claims it is impossible to narrow and ignores their obligation to offer the chance for the requester to narrow the request. (FOIA lawsuit forthcoming)
  • Claim the requested records belong to someone else, lose the lawsuit, pay out $500,000 for FOIA requester’s attorney fees (here).
  • First ignore the FOIA request, then tell the requester they have to come in to view the records in person, then send a letter saying you won’t provide any copies and demand they come to a village meeting, then call them on the phone and say you won’t give them anything no matter what (here and here).
  • Extend the FOIA request, then deny it claiming the Judicial Circuit owns it – even though the Sheriff Dept owns it and the AG forced disclosure on similar records from the same Sheriff just three years earlier.

If anyone else has experienced any creative ways to invite an FOIA lawsuit, please send them to us and we will update this article.
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  • Spense
    Posted at 08:04h, 20 July

    Wow, the facts you presented are so repugnant to our form of government, it frustrates rational thought. Every public official should post this in plain view where they see it everyday: “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts…… absolutely” Lord Acton

  • Kybo
    Posted at 11:40h, 21 July

    This is GREAT! Best thing I’ve seen in 3 yrs.

  • Andrea Parker
    Posted at 21:22h, 21 July

    Congratulations, ECWD.! I’ll be sure to spread the word to Kimsey and McCarthy, with utmost pleasure !!!!!