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

February 19, 2013 2:25 PM


COLUMBIA, SC -- The S.C. House will consider ending part of the exemption that lawmakers have from the state’s sunshine laws.

The state’s Freedom of Information Act, which outlines the information that public officials and government bodies must make available to the public, currently exempts members of the General Assembly and their staff from disclosing memos, correspondence and working papers.

February 7, 2013 2:48 PM

From The State:

A state House subcommitee approved a bill aimed at strengthening the state’s open records laws Thursday.

Sponsored by state Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, the bill seeks to amend the state’s Freedom of Information Act – the law regulating public records – to curb excessive fees charged those seeking records and ensure those requests are filled in a timely manner.

November 2, 2012 10:52 AM

image of AccessA few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week:

Grant could help with West Virginia's records storage problem

PARKERSBURG (Nov 2, 2012) - A grant application for $17,000 will be submitted to the West Virginia Records Management and Preservation Board of the West Virginia Archives and History Division seeking help with records storage issues. ... The RMPB was created by the West Virginia Legislature in 2000 to develop a system of records management and preservation for county governments. Funding for the grants program comes from filing fees collected by county clerks and deposited in the special Public Records and Preservation Account.

Visit for the rest.

IN gubernatorial candidates weigh in on making government more accountable

(Nov 2, 2012) - In the race to become Indiana's next Governor, Democrat John Gregg and Republican Mike Pence say they'd like to make Indiana government more open and accountable. But they're offering few ideas on how they'd do it. ... The Indiana Coalition For Open Government posted those answers from the candidates online this week.

Visit for the rest.

Candidates for N.C. governor support prying open some government records

(Nov 2, 2012) - The main candidates for governor say they favor taking some steps to make state government more transparent, but both avoid sweeping promises about opening up many more records than are already public. In recent interviews, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and Pat McCrory were generally in agreement when asked about disclosing more state employee personnel records, improving campaign finance reporting, making public ethics complaints and releasing their daily calendars. Both expressed concern about protecting employees’ and office-holders’ privacy while acknowledging the need to balance the public’s interest in monitoring state government.

Visit Winston-Salem Journal for the rest.

Greenwood (S.C.) school district refuses FOI request

(Nov 2, 2012) - GREENWOOD — Greenwood School District 50 is refusing to turn over information about the resignation of a high school volleyball coach to a newspaper. The Index-Journal of Greenwood filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the personnel file and emails concerning the employment of Emerald volleyball coach Gina Sargent.

Visit for the rest.

Sarasota advisory boards dogged by Florida's costly Sunshine Law missteps

(Nov 1, 2012) - Government-in-the-Sunshine Law and public record missteps have cost Sarasota about $100,000 in legal fees since this spring and local attorney Andrea Mogensen's firm has garnered the majority of the money. The firm doggedly monitors local government for missteps and last week filed a suit claiming Sarasota's advisory boards have a widespread problem: Members conducting public business through private email accounts, text messages and social media.

Visit Herald-Tribune for the rest.

Have you ever used Utah's GRAMA? I’d like to share your story

(Nov 1, 2012) - People usually think of open government laws such as Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) , as tools for journalists. ... While journalists use the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), GRAMA and the open meetings act to hold elected officials and government agencies accountable, the laws were meant for the general public. Anyone can use those laws to see how government works, and to call bureaucrats and elected officials out when it doesn’t.

Visit The Salt Lake Tribune for the rest.

September 20, 2012 1:47 PM

From Southern Political Report:

September 18, 2012 — COLUMBIA -- The father of a 20-year-old man who was killed in a car accident in 2005 is still pressing for answers.

L. Paul Trask, Jr. has accused state and local officials of violating the state Freedom of Information Act and South Carolina Public Records Act when he sought documents from the investigation of the death of his son.

September 11, 2012 12:58 PM

From Independent Mail:

ANDERSON — Rick Freemantle's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against Anderson County has been delayed and will be assigned to a new judge.

The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled June 27 that the Upstate resident and former Anderson County Council candidate has legal standing under the state's Freedom of Information Act to proceed with his lawsuit against the county and its former administrator, Joey Preston.

June 14, 2012 12:47 PM

From Southern Political Report:

June 14, 2012 — COLUMBIA -- The S.C. Court of Appeals overturned a circuit court decision Wednesday, siding with a citizen who challenged the Saluda County Council's adherence to the Freedom of Information Act. 

Dennis Lambries had sued the Saluda County Council, charging that its practice of amending its agenda during regularly scheduled meetings violated the FOIA. But the circuit court ruled against him and said public bodies weren't required to have an agenda for regularly scheduled meetings, and noted that the council made amendments to the agenda in open public sessions.

May 4, 2012 3:05 PM

A few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week:

NARA Survey Shows Continued Govt-wide Records Mis-Management

The May 1 release of an annual report by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), based on surveys agencies filled out about their record keeping practices, shows how much more work needs to be done before we can say with any certainty that the government is not at risk of losing potentially important records.

Visit for the rest.

Ohio legislature intends to preserve accessibility to public records

I was disappointed to read the Rep editorial “JobsOhio bill is raising red flag” (April 27). As the state representative of this area, as well as the sponsor of House Bill 489, I can be a good source of information when misunderstandings such as this arise.

Visit for the rest.

Utah names open records ombudsman

The state of Utah has named a GRAMA ombudsman to serve as an intermediary between the public and the state when dealing with government record requests.

Visit Daily Herald for the rest.

Chicago open records advocates fear information roadblocks

The state Office of Information Practices hopes a bill that would grant government agencies a new right to appeal open records decisions in court would give its orders more legal clout, yet open government advocates warn that it would delay public access to information.

Visit Chicago Tribune for the rest.

Chicago Police Sought Assistance From DHS On Occupy Chicago

Less than a month after Occupy Chicago faced two rounds of arrests for attempting to create its own encampment in Grant Park last year, Chicago Police sent a request for information to the Department of Homeland Security to see how other cities dealt with the movement. Documents released via a Freedom of Information Act request to Truthout show on Nov. 9, CPD was interested in contacting law enforcement in New York, Oakland, Washington D.C., Portland, Seattle, Boston and Denver to obtain information on Occupy movements

Visit for the rest.

4 frequent FOIA-ers led to new city hire

Repeated Freedom of Information Act requests filed by just four parties may have contributed to the planned hiring of a new deputy city clerk, who will earn $17,500 for a year of part-time work. During the April 10 city council meeting, city clerk Rodney Greene presented a graph showing four anonymous requesters and the number of FOIA requests they had each filed in 2011 and 2012. The most frequent requester filed 18 FOIAs in that time period.

Visit The Daily Northwestern for the rest.

State Ports Authority thwarts efforts to pry info loose

The Post and Courier’s recent series on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) highlighted one of the most important, and least appreciated, characteristics of a free society — the ability ordinary citizens should have to learn, without filters, what government is doing for them and, potentially, to them. Reinforcing The Post and Courier’s findings, the State Integrity Assessment, a project of Public Radio International, the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity, gave South Carolina an “F” for government transparency.

Visit The Post and Courier for the rest.

Consumer Watchdog Files FOIA Request Seeking All Documents In FCC's Investigation Of Google Wi-Spy Scandal

SANTA MONICA—Consumer Watchdog today filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with the Federal Communications Commission seeking all documents related to the Commission's investigation of the Google Wi-Spy scandal.

Visit Market Watch for the rest.

Mayor orders camera off at council meeting

Meetings of the Cumming City Council rarely make the evening news, but that changed last week with video of a woman being tossed out of the public gathering.

Visit Politifact for the rest.

May 3, 2012 4:32 PM

From Aiken Standard:

COLUMBIA, S.C.—The South Carolina House approved a bill Thursday strengthening the state's open records law.

The bill approved 101-1 a bill barring public agencies, governments and school districts from charging excessive fees for public records and requiring them to respond more quickly. It also removes legislators' exemption from the law.

April 26, 2012 3:40 PM

From HeraldOnline:

The South Carolina House has approved a bill strengthening the state's open records law. The bill approved Thursday limits how much public bodies can charge for copies of documents and requires them to respond more quickly. An amendment also removes legislators' exemption from the law.

Rep. Bill Taylor says agencies shouldn't be allowed to charge excessive fees for public records. The bill limits charges for paper copies to the market rate. The Aiken Republican also says allowing 15 days to respond to a request is plenty of time.

April 12, 2012 2:14 PM

From The State:

A hearing for a former Columbia Police Department chief deputy was postponed Thursday after city officials got into a dispute with reporters over the use of video cameras in the hearing. Former Deputy Chief Isa Greene gave approval to the media to attend her hearing before a panel of city employees as she protests her dismissal from the department. However, Pamela Benjamin, the city’s human resources director, told reporters for WIS and WLTX that they would not be allowed to use their video cameras during the proceedings.

April 6, 2012 1:53 PM


Gov. Nikki Haley wants lawmakers to lift the exemption in state law that allows them to shield their emails and other internal communication from public view.

But how the governor’s office has pursued that goal during the ongoing legislative session has put Haley’s administration at odds with the S.C. Press Association, which represents and serves the state’s daily and weekly newspapers.

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