Daily Herald Report: Appeals for Public Information Spike 22 Percent

Jake Griffin at the Daily Herald published an excellent analysis this week of 2012 FOIA request denials from the of Illinois attorney general’s office.

Appeals in response to denied FOIA requests jumped up 22 percent last year. AG Lisa Madigan’s Chief of Staff offered Griffin one explanation:

That increase could stem from more government denials of information requests, increased public knowledge about the right to public records, or other reasons, experts said.

“I think it’s a combination of things. Members of the public as well as nonprofit organizations are more aware that they can come to our office for help. We are raising awareness, education and outreach about the office,” said Ann Spillane, chief of staff for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

The nitty-gritty: members of the public appealed 2,507 denials in 2012, and media outlets appealed 513 denials.Madigan’s office more than doubled the number of “binding opinions” issued in 2011 last year, which reduce the number of denied requests by establishing precedents, something the Illinois Press Association’s attorney weighed in on:

“Have I always agreed with them? No,” Don Craven, legal counsel for the Illinois Press Association, said of the attorney general’s rulings. “They have been busy, but when you birth a new government office, it always takes time to work out the kinks.”

Have you had any experience FOIA-ing the AG’s office? Share your thoughts in the comments.