Rauner complies with order to release more detailed calendar

 
 
Updated 1/8/2016 10:30 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Gov. Bruce Rauner's office ended a monthslong fight over details about his workday Friday, releasing more complete appointment calendars in response to an attorney general's decree that he was withholding more information than allowed under state records-access law.

A lawyer for the first-term Illinois Republican disclosed fresh versions of his calendar from early 2015, nearly four months after the state public access counselor's ruling. The new versions revealed little new information.

 

The issue over what Rauner is doing, when and with whom has been contested by The Associated Press, the Chicago Reader and the Illinois Times, whose staff writer, Bruce Rushton, filed a lawsuit over the matter, an action Rauner lawyer Don Tracy of Springfield blamed for the delay in disclosure.

Rushton told the AP he's satisfied with Rauner's response and remaining redactions. But he said he will oppose the government's motion to dismiss the lawsuit and he will ask a judge to force the government to pick up his legal fees under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. In a letter released Friday, Tracy called Rushton's lawsuit "flawed" and ill-timed.

"We have no heartburn whatsoever in their redacting personal cellphone numbers and that sort of thing. We don't want to know anyone's pants size," Rushton said. "But when it comes to, it's my fault? No. He could have released these records at any time along this process."

Rauner's office declined further comment.

An AP comparison of the new versions - from January, February, April and May of 2015 - to those originally supplied to the AP last year reveals few changes.

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Names of people who were interviewed and later hired for administration posts were blacked out until Friday. The new calendar versions repeatedly show that "budget briefings" were the previously redacted subjects of governor's office meetings. Previously, the governor's calls to staffer Ed Murphy were redacted; the fresh version reveals they dealt with "appointments," presumably to government boards and commissions.

And the fact that "BVR/DMR" - Rauner and his wife, Diana - shopped at a Springfield grocery on Feb. 14 was disclosed originally, but only on Friday was it revealed that they later had dinner at a popular Springfield bar and grill and that night attended the Illinois Symphony Orchestra.

The governor's office, in response to AP Freedom of Information Act requests, similarly redacted calendars for the rest of 2015. The public access counselor issued an opinion last week in favor of the AP's objection, but new versions of latter-year datebooks were not forthcoming.

The ruling on the AP case found that Rauner's schedules are public because they pertain to public business and were prepared for or by a public body for use by government officials. It rejected administration arguments that redactions were proper under FOIA exceptions allowing private and free-flowing policy discussion, safeguarding personal security and ensuring confidential attorney-client communications.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The AP pointed out in its appeal that one redaction apparently made to keep a policy debate secret appeared to be 68 characters long - about half the amount allowed in a Twitter post.

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Contact Political Writer John O'Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/john-oconnor.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that names of job applicants, not dates on which they were interviewed, were blacked out until Friday.

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