Tribune wins decision in FOIA case against College of DuPage, foundation – Chicago Tribune

In a groundbreaking decision, an Illinois appellate court Tuesday ruled the College of DuPage Foundation is subject to the state’s open records law and ordered that it turn over a federal subpoena the Tribune requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

The unanimous decision — which upholds an earlier ruling by DuPage Circuit Judge Robert Gibson — marks the first time an Illinois higher court has ruled in favor of releasing records in the possession of a public college’s fundraising organization. The decision could have broader implications for public bodies that outsource responsibilities to non-government agencies.

“The Tribune is very pleased with the decision, which is a victory for transparency regarding the affairs of government,” said Karen Flax, the Chicago Tribune’s vice president of legal. “The Appellate Court’s decision confirms that public bodies — like the College of DuPage — cannot shield public records by attempting to contract out governmental functions to a third party.”

As part of a yearlong investigation into college spending and contracts, the Tribune sued COD and the foundation in April 2015 to obtain various documents that reporters were refused after they filed open records requests. The college later provided most of the records, but the foundation refused to turn over a subpoena it received as part of a sweeping federal investigation into the Glen Ellyn-based school.

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