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July 20, 2024

Mahomet Township – More Legal Bills For Clear FOIA Violations

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On January 14, 2024

Champaign Co. (ECWd) –

Mahomet Township has once again been found in violation of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), according to the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC).  PAC determination letter at this link.

Two individuals submitted similar FOIA requests in July and August of 2022 seeking legal bills for the township.  After the Township invoked exemptions not applicable, the requestors filed an appropriate request for review with the PAC and the PAC directed the issuance of certain unredacted legal bills.

We are seeing a pattern when it comes to public body attorneys and their attempts to redact or withhold certain records.  In some cases, those exemptions are not applicable but that does not stop the improper withholding.  We wonder if a new cottage industry has emerged with public body attorneys because they know for every letter they write or record they can draw a challenge from a requester, which equates to billable hours.

Should a township have to pay a legal bill regarding a FOIA request challenge in which the lawyer admits the person no longer meets the requirements to be determined a frequent requestor when that was the exemption they cited in the first place?

Another confirmed violation against Mahomet Township indicates extensive legal posturing that does nothing but cost the taxpayers more in legal fees when in the very letter to the PAC they confirm the exemption invoked does not apply.

“Consequently, although the Mahomet Township Road District necessarily concedes that Anderson no longer qualifies as a recurrent requester, the Road District maintains its position that Anderson’s conduct constitutes an actionable abuse of process.”

“Succinctly stated, the Road District concedes Anderson no longer qualifies as a recurrent requester.”  (Letter from Township Attorney)

Considering basic math is all that is needed to determine if a person meets the frequent requester criteria, one would think the attempt to invoke such an exemption that admittedly did not apply would be an abuse of the process that appears to point to a financial gain.  Reading the lawyer’s response letter at this link points to a whole lot of information that has nothing to do with the PAC’s request about one issue, invoking an exemption that did not apply.  After conceding they were wrong, they asked the PAC to assist in a fashion the PAC has no authority to act on, as confirmed in the determination letter to the Township.

“The Public Access Bureau does not have jurisdiction to review tort claims.5 Further, this office cannot determine a request to be an unduly burdensome repeated request unless the request meets that standard under the plain language of section 3(g) of FOIA”

Considering the Township knew the actual exemption invoked by the Township Attorney did not apply, why should the Township taxpayers be on the hook for those legal expenses?  After 4 pages of gobbly goop from the attorney, the PAC ruled against them.

“Accordingly, the Public Access Bureau concludes that the Road District improperly applied the recurrent requester designation to Mr. Anderson.”  (PAC determination letter)



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  • Dave
    Posted at 11:42h, 15 January Reply

    Oh what a tangled web we weave…….

  • nmwtlstfdb
    Posted at 10:25h, 16 January Reply

    Ahh townships….. the government closest to the people. All the easier to pick your pocket.

  • Bob Anderson
    Posted at 09:13h, 22 January Reply

    The solution is….abolish townships!

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