DuPage Township, IL. (ECWd) -
After Bonnie Kurowski published what DuPage Township considers a "confidential" report on the summary of an employee complaint, the Township Attorney sent a cease and desist letter to her work email address.
The letter demanded she remove the offending photos of pages of the report since the report deals with "extremely sensitive matters" affecting the Township and individual employees, and because no portion of it had been approved for public release.
The attorney also asked to be told how the materials were obtained.
Kurowski complied and removed the document from publication.
While we appreciate the Township's concern about the report's publication and who gave copies of it away, we believe the Township has no leg to stand on concerning the demand to have it removed (unpublished), nor the demand for information on how it was obtained.
It is already well established that media can publish classified information, even if the information was originally obtained illegally, as long as the reporter is not the one who illegally obtain the documents nor encouraged someone else to break the law to get the documents, even if the reporter knows the information is classified. A good article in "The Atlantic" and the "NPR" talks about this.
While there my be some responsibilities to not publish immediate threats to national security issues, this report from DuPage Township doesn't even come close to being actionable on the Township's part. However, the publisher of the township's report might have a hard time proving media and reporter protections to keep from revealing her source(s).