Trying to force open the state’s checkbook

forthegoodFrom Adam Andrzejewski:

Nine months ago, our organization, For the Good of Illinois, filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking Republican Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar-Topinka to send us one year of the state’s checkbook. We were simply seeking an accounting of state expenditures so we could share that information with Illinois citizens through our online database. Our request for this information was rejected.

The comptroller asserted “review, redaction, and arrangement of all 2011 vendor payments would take multiple staff members, dedicated solely to this request, more than three days to complete.” Topinka’s office concluded that fulfilling the request was an “undue burden.”

This conclusion is not credible, and her refusal is in fact against both the spirit and the letter of the law. Is the comptroller really going to argue that in this electronic age state government can’t produce a timely and organized checkbook? Is the comptroller’s office really that much of a mess? The fact our FOIA request is being denied by the state’s top financial officer because it’s inconvenient is inexcusable. Or is Comptroller Topinka trying to hide something?

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