The Chicago Tribune has opened up about allegations that an employee was fired from the office of city treasurer Melissa Conyers Irvine two years ago after she refused to participate in illegal and unethical conduct. You have earned the right to receive letters that may become
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raul’s Office Hands Tribune Victory After Months of Fighting Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s legal team insisted the letter should be kept confidential.
Raul’s office issued a “binding opinion” this week stating that the city of Chicago “improperly denied” the release of a letter it received from a private attorney representing a laid-off employee.
“I am pleased that the Attorney General was clear and direct about this binding decision,” said Mitch Pugh, executive editor of the Tribune. In particular, we continue to suffer.”
“This is not the first time we have seen this administration blatantly disregard the public’s right to know,” Pugh said. “But we will hold the city accountable for the taxpayers it serves and the laws it has sworn to uphold. but we are ready to continue this fight if necessary.”
In September, a Cook County judge ruled that the Lightfoot Administration had a record sought by the press on allegations of misconduct by ranking members of the Chicago Fire Department and related to state and federal discrimination and harassment allegations. It ruled in favor of the Tribune for improperly denying another record. city.
In the case of the city’s treasurer, a city spokesman said it would receive and consider the comments.
Through a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, the Tribune attempted to obtain from the city a letter it had received from a private attorney, but Raul’s binding decision on Tuesday said the city refused to provide it. It violated FOIA requirements.” The Office of the Attorney General said a binding opinion has legal force and that the public agency must submit him to the circuit court or seek administrative review within 35 days after the opinion is issued. rice field.
Lightfoot’s ally Conyers Irvine said he fired the employee because he wanted the office to go in a different direction, claiming the allegations of misconduct in the office were false.
Tiffany Harper, former Treasurer’s Chief of Staff, previously said in an email to the city’s ethics officer, “Our dismissal is related to our refusal to participate in illegal and unethical conduct. In the email, Harper did not elaborate on her allegations or identify the person who might be the subject of her complaint. did.
Harper and Ashley Evans, the former chief impact officer for finance, said the city received $41,000 each and the attorney $18,000 to settle the complaint for $100,000. was one of
Tribune City Hall reporter Gregory Pratt has filed a series of requests for emails about the controversy under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
When the private attorney’s letter was dismissed, Pratt appealed to public access counselors in the Attorney General’s Office and won an initial non-binding decision in July that said the city should make the letter public. However, the city refused.
Pratt sought a binding decision from the Attorney General’s Office in September, according to a copy of the reporter’s written request.
The city states that letters from the laid-off worker’s attorney are part of privileged settlement negotiations and are exempt under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as various court rules for evidence and discovery in litigation. claimed to be prohibited by
The Attorney General’s Office sided with the Tribune, saying the city’s claims did not apply and the letter was not exempt from FOIA.
The Attorney General’s Office also set aside the city’s claims about evidence and discovery rules, which do not apply to the matter and which overcome “the public’s statutory right to obtain information pursuant to the FOIA.” said not.
“Therefore,” Raoul’s office concluded, “the City has been instructed to take immediate and appropriate steps to comply with this opinion by providing Mr. Pratt with a copy of the response letter.”