SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan directed St. Clair County state’s attorney Brendan Kelly to release to the Belleville News-Democrat settlements of sexual harassment complaints against former county clerk Bob Delaney.
"The public has a right to know the purposes for which public funds are expended, including the identity of those who receive the funds,” Madigan counsel Michael Luke wrote to Kelly on May 9.
Luke wrote that confidentiality clauses in the settlement agreements contravene public policy and cannot be enforced.
He called for immediate and appropriate action, pointing out that Kelly can redact private information.
Kelly can petition for review in 35 days at circuit court in Springfield or Chicago.
News-Democrat reporter Daniel Kelley asked Kelly for all the year’s settlementagreements on Dec. 30.
Assistant state’s attorney Sean Murley gave six agreements to Kelley on Jan. 14, writing that others would remain confidential.
Murley wrote that parties entered into the agreements with the understanding that details would not be disclosed.
He wrote that their privacy should be protected because of the nature of the allegations.
On Jan. 28, Kelley asked Madigan to review Murley’s response.
On Feb. 3, Madigan asked Murley for unredacted copies of the documents he withheld.
Murley provided them and wrote, “Disclosure of these documents would be in direct violation of confidentiality agreement entered into by the parties.”
"In addition, these cases involve sexual harassment claims that are by nature considered confidential," Murley wrote.
He wrote that disclosing names of victims would further embarrass and humiliate them.
Luke, however, found nothing embarrassing or humiliating in the agreements.
“This office’s confidential review of the withheld documents disclosed that they do not include references to the specific allegations underlying the complaints that led to the settlements," Luke wrote.
“The county has not provided legal support for its assertion that the release of the settlement agreements would result in an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of the complainants.”