What Can You Do About FOIA/OMA Violations?

You have the right to seek a review from the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) https://foiapac.ilag.gov/ OR you can file a lawsuit in Circuit Court.

Illinois Public Access Counselor

The PAC can

  • Help mediate disputes over FOIA and OMA

  • Issue advisory opinions to resolve disputes

  • Issue binding opinions and enforce them by filing a lawsuit, if necessary

The PAC also conducts FOIA and OMA training for government officials and maintains a public hotline, 1-877-299-FOIA.

You have 60 calendar days to ask for a PAC review If you believe a public body has violated OMA or improperly denied your FOIA request.

To contact the Public Access Counselor

Instructions for requesting a review can be found here.

Email: public.access@ilag.gov//need to confirm since AG site has three different addresses

Call: 877-299-3642

FAX: 217-782-1396

Mail: 500 S. Second Street, Springfield IL 62706

There is no charge for a PAC review, but it has its limitations. (See Illinois Law Hasn’t Stopped Public Agencies from Withholding Records.)

https://www.bettergov.org/news/analysis-illinois-law-hasnt-stopped-public-agencies-from-withholding-records/ (OR MAYBE WE EMBED THAT HERE, art and all?)

The office doesn’t have the resources to keep up with its caseload or the authority to impose penalties. Public bodies that willfully disregard FOIA and OMA tend to disregard the PAC, too — with few consequences.

If the PAC isn’t able to resolve your problem, you can still sue. Or you can skip the PAC and go directly to court.