Fightin’ Words: Rahmbo Sued By Chicago Tribune For Violating State Law

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is the target of a second lawsuit this year by The Chicago Tribune after the newspaper says he prevented them from receiving administration records they are legally entitled to under Illinois law.

Tribune Editor Gerould Kern said in a statement it’s an important issue.

“We are seeking the release of public records on matters of great interest to citizens, but the city refuses to divulge them. Regrettably, the city’s denial is part of a pattern of resistance to releasing public documents covered by the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. We are compelled, therefore, to go to court for the second time in three months to force the city’s compliance.”

According to the Chicago Tribune’s article announcing the lawsuit:

The Chicago Tribune filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that Mayor Rahm Emanuel violated state open records laws by refusing to release communications about city business conducted through private emails and text messages.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, asks a judge to order the mayor to comply with a state Freedom of Information Act request from the Tribune and produce the documents. The lawsuit also seeks to have Emanuel declared in violation of the Illinois Local Records Act for failing to preserve emails and texts he sent or received while doing city business.

The lawsuit claims that, in recent years, Freedom of Information Act requests from the Tribune to the mayor’s office “have been met with a pattern of non-compliance, partial compliance, delay and obfuscation.” Emanuel’s use of private phones and personal email, the lawsuit alleges, allows the mayor to do the public’s business without scrutiny and contributes to a “lack of transparency.”

The lawsuit is the second the news organization has filed against the Emanuel administration in recent months. In June, the Tribune sued the mayor’s office over its refusal to produce some email chains related to a multimillion-dollar no-bid Chicago Public Schools contract now at the center of a federal criminal investigation.

Emaunuel is in his second term as the Windy City’s chief executive after winning a hard fought re-election battle this year.