The Belleville News-Democrat is taking Madison County to court over documents relating to the sheriff’s department and protection for a controversial employee.
The News-Democrat and reporter Beth Hunsdorfer filed a Freedom of Information Act request in July requesting documents relating to a request for additional security for Community Development Director Kristen Poshard, to be provided by the Madison County Sheriff’s Department.
County officials denied the request, stating that it was an invasion of personal privacy. The News-Democrat requested a review from the public access counselor with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, which affirmed the county’s decision in a non-binding opinion.
Poshard has been on paid suspension since Aug. 3 for alleged “violations of the county’s personnel policy.” Poshard, 43, had served as head of community development since March 15 with an annual salary of $92,000. She has publicly stated that she is contemplating legal action.
The News-Democrat has filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking a judge’s order to release the records. The suit argues that since the disclosure of information that bears on the public duties of public employees and officials is not considered an invasion of personal privacy under the Freedom of Information Act, Poshard’s protection is not subject to the privacy rule.
“These are clearly public records that Madison County officials want to keep secret,” said News-Democrat Editor Jeffry Couch. “We believe that the public has a right to review these documents and that the court will agree with our position.”
The suit also argues that much about Poshard’s situation has already been made public, including her voluntary disclosures of a history of past sexual abuse and communications breakdowns between Poshard and county administrator Doug Hulme.