Are you familiar with the “preliminary drafts” exemption to Illinois Freedom of Information Act requests, which allows policymakers to withhold early versions of documents while they’re in their earliest stages, under the assumption that later, revised and finalized versions will be made available? Illinois Governor Pat Quinn knows the exemption well, and according to Illinois Watchdog, he’s a big fan. The independent news agency was denied access to material requested in one of four FOIAs they sent between April and July.
Quinn’s office withheld records about prison and developmental-center closures, consolidation of state police communications centers and shutting down animal disease testing facilities–each of which has affected taxpayers and the economy all over the state.
Quinn’s office may be using the exemption as it was intended, said Springfield attorney Don Craven, who specializes in open government matters. The problem, however, is that the broad exemption leaves taxpayers in the dark about the decision-making process. Illinoisans have no clue what factors were or were not considered in any given policy decision.