FOI Advocate Blog

The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit

June 24, 2015 3:02 PM


CONTACT: Daniel Bevarly

(239) 823-1811 ·


Knight FOI fund helps bring settlement in Florida Governor Lawsuit 


COLUMBIA, Mo. (June 24, 2015) – The Associated Press reported that Florida Governor Rick Scott and his Cabinet are settling a lawsuit* filed by media organizations and others over the firing of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement chief Gerald Bailey.

The lawsuit was filed by St. Petersburg attorney Matthew Weidner, Citizens for Sunshine and nine media organizations including the Florida First Amendment Foundation and the Associated Press.  To help with litigation costs, Mr. Weidner applied for and received an FOI grant from the National Freedom of information Coalition (NFOIC). NFOIC offers litigation grants to qualified applicants to pursue important open government cases.  The fund is made possible through a generous donation from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to NFOIC, the fund’s administrator.

The fund is aimed at covering the costs of bringing litigation, which would include up-front costs such as court costs, filing fees, depositions and related expenses. Recipients are expected to reimburse the fund for at least the full value of the grant when they are able to recover those costs as part of the resolution of the case for which grant funding was used.

Applicants may include individuals, organizations (including NFOIC member organizations), journalists, attorneys, news organizations, or any citizen needing support for a meritorious open government case. Applications submitted either directly to NFOIC or through a state FOI group will be forwarded to the NFOIC Litigation Committee. This year, NFOIC has received seven (7) grant applications.


* The lawsuit contended that Governor Scott and Cabinet members sidestepped the state’s Sunshine Law in the way they handled Bailey’s dismissal last year. The groups that sued Scott asserted that the firing should have been voted on during a public meeting, but instead the firing and the search for his replacement were handled behind the scenes through aides. After the two sides held closed mediation sessions, an agreement was reached. (Source: Associated Press)

June 24, 2015 2:04 PM

The Chicago Tribune sued the city of Chicago on Wednesday in a dispute over the news organization's public records request for emails from the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The complaint, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, said the Tribune sought 25 email chains that may be related to a multimillion-dollar no-bid Chicago Public Schools contract now at the center of a federal criminal investigation.  Continue>>>


June 24, 2015 9:20 AM

The judgment was given in a dispute about NAMA's status, which arose after a journalist sought certain information in relation to the agency.

Former Information Commissioner Emily O'Reilly ruled in 2011 NAMA should be subject to environmental information requests because it is a public authority.  Continue>>>


June 24, 2015 9:20 AM

The judgment was given in a dispute about National Asset Management Agency's (NAMA) status, which arose after a journalist sought certain information in relation to the agency.

Former Information Commissioner Emily O'Reilly ruled in 2011 NAMA should be subject to environmental information requests because it is a public authority.  Continue>>>


June 23, 2015 3:02 PM

CHATHAM - A judge has dismissed a petition filed by three residents against the Pittsylania County Agricultural Development Board. However, he granted them reasonable attorney fees they had requested in the case.

"I'm dismissing the petition because I'm not convinced there's a need for it," said Pittsylvania County General District Court Judge J. Larry Palmer.  Continue>>>


FOIA, FOIA lawsuit, Virginia
June 23, 2015 9:11 AM

Western Watersheds Project has filed a federal lawsuit against Wildlife Services, saying the federal agency hasn’t responded to its Freedom of Information Act requests for documents detailing its activities in killing wildlife in Idaho. Talasi Brooks, an attorney with Advocates for the West, which is representing the conservation group in the case, said, “The Freedom of Information Act’s basic purpose is to open agency action to the light of public scrutiny.

Wildlife Services has never disclosed the full nature, extent and environmental impacts of its Idaho operations. We hope this lawsuit will force the agency to produce the information requested so we can make sure Idahoans know what Wildlife Services is up to in our state.”  Continue>>>


May 29, 2015 11:12 AM

The watchdog group Cause of Action is suing the Justice Department for records on what is says are possible unethical disclosures of confidential taxpayer information to the White House, the organization announced Thursday.

The group discovered in April that attorneys from the Justice Department’s tax division, some of whom were also involved in litigation over the IRS targeting scandal, were being detailed to the White House to conduct background checks on potential executive nominees.  Continue>>>


May 7, 2015 11:34 AM

The FBI rightfully withheld documents about two terror suspects because they were exempt from disclosure, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Kenneth Dillon filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI in 2011, seeking records about the August 2011 detention and arrest of terrorism conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Dillon later narrowed his request for records about Moussaoui referencing cropdusting or biological or chemical terrorism.

He also sought records about the detention of al-Qaida operative Abderraouf Jdey, the ruling states. Continue>>>

May 6, 2015 1:05 PM

Oral arguments on the Project Jackson case were presented Tuesday before the S.C. Supreme Court.

The case of Steve Donohue v. the City of North Augusta, Mayor Lark Jones and the North Augusta City Council went before the state’s highest court with the issues of proving blight in a Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, district, and Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, violations coming under question from the five Supreme Court Justices.

Belton Ziegler, lead attorney for the City of North Augusta, said the Supreme Court is taking the Freedom of Information Act cases in order to clear up what the act means. Continue>>>

May 5, 2015 12:46 PM

A secret, secondary email address used by Delaware Governor Jack Markell has some lawmakers crying foul.

Over the course of more than six years in office, Delaware Governor Jack Markell has maintained two public email addresses: and But it's a third, secret email that has caused raised eyebrows in Dover in recent weeks.

That email address does not include the Markell's name or title. Instead, it bears the name of country music legend Alan Jackson: Alan is Markell's middle name. Continue>>>

May 4, 2015 11:40 AM

In a groundbreaking victory for open-government advocates, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered the state Senate and its leaders to turn over the appointment calendars and other records of two former state senators.

In a sweeping decision, Judge Michael Kenny tentatively ruled that the appointment books, meeting schedules and calendars of former Democratic Sens. Leland Yee and Ron Calderon requested by two news organizations are public records.

The Los Angeles News Group and its sister news organization the Bay Area News Group sued the state Senate last year over its refusal to release portions of the appointment calendars of the senators. Continue>>>


May 4, 2015 11:08 AM

A $403,000 resignation agreement between former Pasadena City College President Mark Rocha and the board of trustees was voided Wednesday when a Los Angeles Superior Court judged ruled the board broke open government laws while discussing the deal in closed session.

Rocha stated he resigned for “personal reasons” when he left with 18 months of severance in August, but court filings revealed the sudden resignation and payout stemmed from Rocha threatening to sue the board because of negative comments a board member made about him to the media.

The college never disclosed Rocha’s threatened litigation or its discussions about a settlement on its closed session agendas, despite open government laws requiring them to provide a description of the “anticipated litigation,” according to Judge Joanne O’Donnell’s ruling. They also never disclosed that the meetings were related to Rocha’s employment. Continue>>>

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