The Iowa Public Information Board
The Iowa Public Information Board
COMES NOW, Margaret E. Johnson, Executive Director for the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB), and enters this Dismissal Order:
On June 28, 2021, James Caufield filed formal complaint 21FC:0055, alleging that the City of Perry (City) and the Perry Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) each violated Iowa Code chapter 22 by failing to release records he requested.
On January 4, 2021, Mr. Caufield, on behalf of the Perry News, sent a request to the Chamber asking if the Chamber had “any information on how the Chamber spends its 4/7 share of the hotel/motel tax revenues, such as annual reports produced by the Chamber” for the last five years. If so, he requested copies of the reports. He asked again on January 7, 2021.
According to Mr. Caufield, the Chamber responded, stating that the Chamber does not submit such reports to the City, offering instead to “pull some numbers from the past few years as you’ve requested.” When the Chamber did not submit the requested information, Mr. Caufield resubmitted his request on January 27, 2021, and again on February 25, 2021. He copied the City on the February request.
On June 2, 2021, Mr. Caufield made what he characterized as a “formal request” to the Chamber, requesting “a copy of the following records… all records of the Perry Chamber of Commerce relating to disbursement of hotel/motel tax revenues from fiscal year 2016 - 2017 to fiscal year 2020 - 2021.” He again copied the City on this request. He alleged he did not receive any response or records from either the City or the Chamber.
The City Administrator responded to the complaint on June 29, 2021, noting that the City is not the lawful custodian of the requested records. In addition, the City Administrator stated, “I assumed that I was included on the emails only for my information and not that any action was requested from me.” He stated that the City had not received formal reports for the last few years from the Chamber, adding that if reports are provided to the City, those would be filed and available as public records.
On July 7, 2021, the Chamber responded to the complaint, indicating that the Chamber is a nonprofit business association and not a government body as defined by Iowa Code section 22.1(1):
1. “Government body” means this state, or any county, city, township, school corporation, political subdivision, tax-supported district, nonprofit corporation other than a fair conducting a fair event as provided in chapter 174, whose facilities or indebtedness are supported in whole or in part with property tax revenue and which is licensed to conduct pari-mutuel wagering pursuant to chapter 99D; the governing body of a drainage or levee district as provided in chapter 468, including a board as defined in section 468.3, regardless of how the district is organized; or other entity of this state, or any branch, department, board, bureau, commission, council, committee, official, or officer of any of the foregoing or any employee delegated the responsibility for implementing the requirements of this chapter.
As noted above, the Chamber is not a government body and, therefore, is not required to follow Iowa Code chapter 22 public records laws. The City is a government body, but is not the custodian of the records sought. The City had no records available that were responsive to Mr. Caufield’s request.1
Iowa Code section 23.8 requires that a complaint be within the IPIB’s jurisdiction, appear legally sufficient, and have merit before the IPIB accepts a complaint. This complaint does not fulfill those requirements.
IT IS SO ORDERED: Formal complaint 21FC:0055 is dismissed as legally insufficient pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.8(2) and Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(2)(b).
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(3), the IPIB may “delegate acceptance or dismissal of a complaint to the executive director, subject to review by the board.” The IPIB will review this Order on August 19, 2021. Pursuant to IPIB rule 497-2.1(4), the parties will be notified in writing of its decision.
By the IPIB Executive Director
Margaret E. Johnson
1. The email requests for records were specifically addressed to the executive director of the Chamber, with the City copied as a ‘cc’. It was not clear that the City was expected to respond to the emails.
CERTIFICATE OF MAILING
This document was sent by electronic mail on the ___ day of August, 2021, to:
Perry Chamber of Commerce
City of Perry