Gov. Bruce Rauner confirms the new private economic development corporation for the state won't be subject to the same transparency requirements as government agencies.
When announcing a new link between the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the private Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation last week, Rauner had said the organization would be held the same Freedom of Information Act standards as government agencies to turn over documents and records when requested.
DCEO Director Jim Schultz later seem to contradict Rauner by saying it wouldn't be subject to FOIA.
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"I apologize for that," Rauner said. "We're sort of both right, and here's the subtlety of it: the reality is the entity itself won't be subject to FOIA on a complete basis. They won't be just like the other not-for-profit agencies that contract with the state, they're not subject to FOIA, either."
Rauner said while it's not the exact FOIA standards, there will be public access to the corporation's activities because the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has to approve any deals or incentives offered to companies.
"Everything the state does, every relationship, every deal, every negotiation, every contract, will be subject to FOIA. So the vast bulk of everything they do will be subject to FOIA," Rauner said.
When asked about transparency at the new corporation, Schultz had said last week the group would post its board minutes online along with any grants, tax incentives, and donations to companies. Sarah Brune, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said that doesn't go far enough.
"If this entity is conducting public business, which it sounds like that's much of the goal, then it's really the equivalent of a public entity and it should be treated equally, and so the FOIA rules should apply," Brune said.
When asked how FOIA standards could be applied to a private corporation, Brune said Illinois could follow an Oregon law which requires private entities involved in public-private partnership to be "held to the same standard" as public agencies in terms of disclosure.