Illinois Attorney General Opinion Provides Guidance on "Recurrent Requester" Status Under FOIA


The Public Access Counselor (PAC) of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office recently issued a binding opinion concerning the new “recurrent requester” provision in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As we provided in a recent FR Alert, the FOIA was amended to include a new classification of requesters known as “recurrent requesters.” The PAC opinion answers the question as to whether separate requests from a husband and wife can be combined to establish recurrent requester status for one of the members of the couple and provides other guidance on this new FOIA provision.

In the opinion, a husband and wife had separately and, on one occasion, jointly sent numerous FOIA requests to the Village of Smithfield over the course of a year. The wife had submitted ten requests during the year, the husband had submitted three requests, and the couple had submitted one joint request. The Village combined the requests when calculating whether the wife was a recurrent requester because the requests were mailed in the same envelope and from the same address. As further justification for finding the wife to be a recurrent requester, the Village maintained that the couple had submitted an excess of Requests for Review to the PAC regarding FOIA requests to the Village.

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