Arts council ducking responsibility to turn over grant records, group says
The Illinois Arts Council (IAC) is "stonewalling" to keep public records of a questionable $3,000 grant award from the Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW), the group contends on its Illinois Leaks website.
The IAC approved several Master Apprentice Program grants for fiscal year 2015, including one to a Naperville artist who listed her apprentice as having the same last name as she, the ECW said. In other words, it appears that the money is going to pay for someone to teach a relative.
The ECW submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the IAC on July 20 asking for copies of the grant application and other records pertaining to it. Six days later, IAC Chairman Shirley Madigan, wife of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), responded in an email saying that the organization needed an extension to provide the requested records due to budget preparation and limited staff resources.
"It wasn’t until July 28 that Shirley Madigan responded stating they needed more time to provide the requested records, never stating any statutory authority for the extension, nor a legitimate reason for the delay," the ECW posted. "She also never mentioned they were already late in requesting an extension, if it were a legitimate reason."
Under state law, public bodies have five days to respond to FOIA requests.