Quincy, IL News - Journal930.com
Quincy, IL News - Journal930.com
Thursday, Oct 8, 2015

Hiding public records in Illinois now a Class 4 felony

1 year, 1 month ago by Illinois Policy.org

Conviction means 1 to 3 years in prison

It’s not all bad news in Illinois. Sometimes our politicians get it right.

Illinois lawmakers have made it a Class 4 felony to intentionally hide public records from the public.

House Bill 4216, introduced by state Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights, was passed unanimously by both the Illinois House and Senate. It was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn on Aug. 26.

The bill provides that, “Any person who knowingly, without lawful authority and with the intent to defraud any party, public officer, or entity, alters, destroys, defaces, removes, or conceals any public record commits a Class 4 felony.”

The penalties for a Class 4 felony in Illinois can include between one and three years in prison with the possibility of additional fines.

This law should be of special concern to public officials who are in charge of producing and maintaining public records. Clerks, recorders, finance workers, comptrollers and Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA officers are some of the primary caretakers of public records and public records requests.

While most of these workers do their job to the best of their ability, Illinois’ long history of corruption includes those who have abused their public office in this manner. For example, the comptroller of the city of Dixon, Rita Crundwell, was found guilty of stealing more than $53 million from local taxpayers in 2013. In the commission of her crime she hid and falsified financial records to cover up her wrongdoing.

Crundwell faces nearly 20 years in prison, a sentence that seems light considering the scale of her crime. However, with the new law, future public officials who violate the Local Records Act – a statute that requires local governments to keep public records and outlines the procedure by which public bodies may destroy public records – risk facing additional charges and more time in jail.

With stronger anti-corruption laws and increased penalties for those who conceal public records, public officials should think twice before obstructing the public’s right to know about government activities.

- See more at: http://www.illinoispolicy.org/its-now-a-class-4-felony-to-hide-public-records-in-illinois/#sthash.4qua6NeA.dpuf