ILLINOIS — The Illinois Department of the Lottery must disclose under the state’s open records act details of a media plan developed for it by a private agency, as well as annual gross sales data for the geographical location of each Chicago lottery outlet, the Appellate Court of Illinois in Chicago held in a 2-1 decision late September.
William Cooper asked for the information in 1990 to study whether IDL ads target “specific groups or economic classes” with the intent to exploit them, something the department’s policies forbid.
IDL argued that the material fell within an exemption for trade-secrets and proprietary information, as well as an exemption for recommendations concerning financing or marketing transactions of a public body.
The court stated that the trade-secret exemption only excludes from disclosure information that would either “inflict substantial competitive” harm on the information provider or deter people from submitting similar information in the future.
The court held that the government may not invoke its own “client” status to withhold a report it commissions from a private entity, and found it unlikely that release of the material would deter the private agency or lottery outlets from providing similar information in the future.
Furthermore, the court added, the Illinois Lottery does not face competition, and neither the private agency nor the lottery outlets provided the information in confidence or would suffer substantial competitive harm by its disclosure.
The court added that a governmental entity cannot trigger the financing and marketing recommendations exemption simply by labeling a document “recommendations.” Here, IDL incorrectly invoked the exemption to shield information about department policy and tactics, not to withhold financing or marketing recommendations.
(Cooper v. Illinois Dept. of the Lottery)
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