Attorney general tells tollway to hand over resume of politically connected manager

 
 
Updated 2/6/2018 5:46 PM
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  • The Illinois Attorney General's office is intervening is an open records dispute with the Daily Herald and Illinois tollway.

    The Illinois Attorney General's office is intervening is an open records dispute with the Daily Herald and Illinois tollway. Daily Herald File Photo

The Illinois Attorney General's office has intervened in the Illinois tollway's denial of a Freedom of Information Act request from the Daily Herald seeking the resume of a politically connected employee.

Lawyers with the Public Access Bureau asked the tollway to provide the resume of Laura Durkin for their review. She is the sister-in-law of House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and the general manager of engineering at the agency since 2017.

Tollway authorities said she was chosen out of 10 applicants because "she had the best skill set of the candidates considered for the job including management experience, organizational skills and detail focus."

Jim Durkin was not involved in the hiring, officials said.

The Daily Herald appealed the denial saying disclosure of Laura Durkin's professional experience and education is in the public interest in determining if her qualifications fit the job.

"We have determined further action is warranted," Assistant Attorney Teresa Lim wrote the tollway Jan. 31, asking for a detailed explanation of the tollway's reasons for seeking an exemption from the FOI law.

The Public Access Bureau also cited a previous case in Winnetka where Attorney General Lisa Madigan found the village had improperly denied a FOIA request for the resume of an assistant director of public works and engineering.

"There is compelling public interest in the disclosure of a public employee's credentials in order to assess his or her qualifications for public employment. That public interest outweighs a public employee's right to privacy," Madigan found.

The tollway is required to respond this week. The general manager of engineering position is paid $80,000 annually.

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