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(15 ILCS 205/7)
Public Access Counselor.
(a) The General Assembly finds that members of the public have encountered obstacles in obtaining copies of public records from units of government, and that many of those obstacles result from difficulties that both members of the public and public bodies have had in interpreting and applying the Freedom of Information Act. The General Assembly further finds that members of the public have encountered difficulties in resolving alleged violations of the Open Meetings Act. The public's significant interest in access to public records and in open meetings would be better served if there were a central office available to provide advice and education with respect to the interpretation and implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act.
(b) Therefore, there is created in the Office of the Attorney General the Office of Public Access Counselor. The Attorney General shall appoint a Public Access Counselor, who shall be an attorney licensed to practice in Illinois. The Public Access Counselor's Office shall be comprised of the Public Access Counselor and such assistant attorneys general and other staff as are deemed necessary by the Attorney General.
(c) Through the Public Access Counselor, the Attorney General shall have the power:
(1) to establish and administer a program to provide
free training for public officials and to educate the public on the rights of the public and the responsibilities of public bodies under the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act;
(2) to prepare and distribute interpretive or
educational materials and programs;
(3) to resolve disputes involving a potential
violation of the Open Meetings Act or the Freedom of Information Act in response to a request for review initiated by an aggrieved party, as provided in those Acts, by mediating or otherwise informally resolving the dispute or by issuing a binding opinion; except that the Attorney General may not issue an opinion concerning a specific matter with respect to which a lawsuit has been filed under Section 3 of the Open Meetings Act or Section 11 of the Freedom of Information Act;
(4) to issue advisory opinions with respect to the
Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act either in response to a request for review or otherwise;
(5) to respond to informal inquiries made by the
public and public bodies;
(6) to conduct research on compliance issues;
(7) to make recommendations to the General Assembly
concerning ways to improve access to public records and public access to the processes of government;
(8) to develop and make available on the Attorney
General's website or by other means an electronic training curriculum for Freedom of Information officers;
(9) to develop and make available on the Attorney
General's website or by other means an electronic Open Meetings Act training curriculum for employees, officers, and members designated by public bodies;
(10) to prepare and distribute to public bodies model
policies for compliance with the Freedom of Information Act; and
(11) to promulgate rules to implement these powers.
(d) To accomplish the objectives and to carry out the duties prescribed by this Section, the Public Access Counselor, in addition to other powers conferred upon him or her by this Section, may request that subpoenas be issued by the Attorney General in accordance with the provisions of Section 9.5 of the Freedom of Information Act and Section 3.5 of the Open Meetings Act. Service by the Attorney General of any subpoena upon any person shall be made:
(1) personally by delivery of a duly executed copy
thereof to the person to be served, or in the case of a public body, in the manner provided in Section 2-211 of the Code of Civil Procedure; or
(2) by mailing by certified mail a duly executed copy
thereof to the person to be served at his or her last known abode or, in the case of a public body, to its principal place of business.
(e) If any person or public body fails or refuses to obey any subpoena issued pursuant to this Section, the Attorney General may file a complaint in the circuit court to:
(1) obtain compliance with the subpoena;
(2) obtain injunctive relief to prevent a violation
of the Open Meetings Act or Freedom of Information Act; and
(3) obtain such other relief as may be required.
(f) The Attorney General has the authority to file an action in the circuit court of Cook or Sangamon County for injunctive or other relief to compel compliance with a binding opinion issued pursuant to Section 3.5 of the Open Meetings Act or Section 9.5 of the Freedom of Information Act, to prevent a violation of the Open Meetings Act or the Freedom of Information Act, and for such other relief as may be required.
(g) The Attorney General shall post his or her binding opinions issued pursuant to Section 3.5 of the Open Meetings Act or Section 9.5 of the Freedom of Information Act and any rules on the official website of the Office of the Attorney General, with links to those opinions from the official home page, and shall make them available for immediate inspection in his or her office.
(Source: P.A. 96-542, eff. 1-1-10; 96-1000, eff. 7-2-10.)