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April 24, 2024

AG: DuPage County violated FOIA (and so did the College of DuPage) –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On December 31, 2019

DuPage County (ECWd) –

This afternoon, the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor released a determination stating that DuPage County violated the Freedom of Information Act when it refused to provide W2s for certain elected officials of the county.

Those W2s were originally requested in May of 2016, and a request for review was filed with the AG PAC in June of 2016. Yes, 3 1/2 years ago…

This 17-page determination, surprisingly, reversed a 2014 Opinion in which the AG determined that the College of DuPage could withhold W2 Forms. Starting at the bottom of page 8, the PAC acknowledges their mistake in the previous COD opinion (2014 PAC 27589) and even explains how they made the mistake and how they should have decided it – especially since we sued the COD under FOIA and lost, mainly because COD’s defense used that now-invalid opinion as part of their defense.

My assertions that a W2 form is a public record and subject to FOIA (with limited redactions) is and always was correct, and I argued that point citing the Illinois Constitution, and the FOIA as below:

Constitution: Article VIII, Section 1 (c):
“Reports and records of the obligation, receipt, and use of public funds of the State, units of local government and school districts are public records available for

inspection by the public according to law.”

FOIA, Section 7:
“(1) When a request is made to inspect or copy a public record that contains information that is exempt from disclosure under this Section, but also contains information that is not exempt from disclosure, the public body may elect to redact the information that is exempt. The public body shall make the remaining information available for inspection and copying.
Subject to this requirement, the following shall be exempt from inspection and copying:”

Other reasons were also included by the PAC as to why W2s are not exempt from FOIA, and you can read them in the 17-page determination below: (or here):

42153 f 71a 71b 71c improper county

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1 Comment
  • John
    Posted at 21:42h, 31 December

    W2s do contain personal financial information. The taxable wages are often different than the stated pay, usually due to deductions for insurance, deferred compensation, medical / dependent care deductions, etc. In addition, child custody / support payments can further “skew” the taxable income. What exactly are you looking for here? Discrepancies between stated pay rates and taxable income? ? Serious question – does HIPAA cover premium amounts?