Champaign Co. (ECWd) –
We first covered the Sangamon Valley Public Water District in this article that outlined what we believed to be electioneering with public resources. Our suspicion appeared to be confirmed because 37 minutes after publishing that article they corrected the press release while failing to indicate on the press release that a correction was being placed in the document, which we covered in this article.
That old saying, start from the beginning, appears to hold true as the part of the press release they did not change, the beginning, was a red flag to us.
What did SVPWD tell the public in their alleged electioneering with public resources?
“Sangamon Valley Public Water District has received several calls and emails with questions regarding flyers asking for a “yes” vote that are being circulated in the District.”
The first thing I wanted to do was read what those emails said, because they claimed to have received them. So I simply asked for the following in a FOIA request.
“A copy of all emails received regarding questions about flyers asking for a “yes” vote that is being circulated in the District.”
Is anyone surprised by the response?
FOIA RESPONSE SENT 6/20/2022
FOIA REQUEST #1 FROM KIRK ALLEN – 6/14/22
1. A copy of all emails received regarding questions about flyers asking for a “yes” vote that is being circulated in the District. – No Records Available
So there is no confusion on why we asked if they were misleading, it’s really simple. If they actually received the emails as claimed in the press release, then it appears they improperly denied a response to the FOIA when they claimed there were no records. If the response indicating there are no records available is true, then it appears they misled to the public in their press release.
However, there is one more option that might indicate they have a bigger problem. Note their choice of words in the response. “No Records Available“.
Are they not available because they were deleted, or are there no records available because they are too embarrassing?
If they intend on claiming the press release was true and the FOIA response was true, the only logical conclusion would be that they did receive those emails as claimed and then deleted them before our request, which resulted in a no records available response, but surely they are not so ignorant as to delete public records without permission from the Secretary of State, or are they?
If they did delete them, why? Were those emails, if they truly existed, too embarrassing and would expose how the people felt about the matter?
Are they aware deleting public records without proper authorization, which they could not have obtained in this short time span, is a violation of state law?
(50 ILCS 205/4) (from Ch. 116, par. 43.104)
Sec. 4. (a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this Section, all public records made or received by, or under the authority of, or coming into the custody, control or possession of any officer or agency shall not be mutilated, destroyed, transferred, removed or otherwise damaged or disposed of, in whole or in part, except as provided by law. Any person who knowingly, without lawful authority and with the intent to defraud any party, public officer, or entity, alters, destroys, defaces, removes, or conceals any public record commits a Class 4 felony.
I have asked them what happened to the emails but have not received any response at the time of publication. We will update accordingly, if they respond.