FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Ethan Book, Jr.,
against Docket #FIC 94-269
State Representative John G. Metsopoulos,
Respondent May 24, 1995
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 10, 1994, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. By letter dated July 13, 1994, and sent to the respondent's residence, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with certain information in connection with the complainant's livery application filed with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (hereinafter "DOT"), which application had been denied by the DOT on or about April 2, 1993. Specifically, the complainant requested the following information:
a. "a listing of all steps that [the respondent] took since April 2, 1993, including dates of respective actions, names of parties contacted, nature of contact, and copies of all pertinent correpondence, notes of conversations, telephone messages, etc."; and
b. "a listing of all contacts that [the respondent] made between August 8, 1992 and April 2, 1993, regarding me or the livery application, including copies of all correspondence, notes of conversations, copies of telephone messages, etc."
2. By letter dated August 5, 1994 and filed August 8, 1994, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent failed to respond to his July 13, 1994 request.
Docket #FIC 94-269 Page 2
3. It is found that the respondent did not become aware of the complainant's July 13, 1994 request for information until he received a notice of hearing and order to show cause from this Commission, approximately one week prior to the date of hearing in this matter.
4. It is found that the reason the respondent was unaware of the complainant's request was due to the fact that the respondent had filed a harassment complaint against the complainant with the local police department and that on June 29, 1994 the department directed the respondent not to open any mail received from the complainant and to forward it to the department.
5. The respondent claims, among other things, that:
a. he provided the complainant with all of the records in his files pertaining to the complainant's livery application; and
b. no records exist "listing steps taken" in connection with the complainant's livery application and that he is not required to create such record or records in response to a request for information.
6. Section 1-18a(a), G.S., defines public agency as:
any executive, administrative or legislative office of the state or any political subdivision of the state and any state or town agency, any department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official of the state or of any city, town, borough, municipal corporation, school district, regional district or other district or other political subdivision of the state, including any committee of, or created by, any such office, subdivision, agency, department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official, and also includes any judicial office, official or body or committee thereof but only in respect to its or their administrative functions. [Emphasis added.]
7. Section 1-18a(d), G.S., defines public records as:
any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method. [Emphasis added.]
Docket #FIC 94-269 Page 3
8. Section 1-19(a), G.S., in material part, states:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15. [Emphasis added.]
9. Section 1-21i(b)(1), G.S., in material part, states:
Any person denied the right to inspect or copy records under section 1-19 or wrongfully denied the right to attend any meeting of a public agency or denied any other right conferred by sections 1-15, 1-18a, 1-19 to 1-19b, inclusive, 1-20a and 1-21 to 1-21k, inclusive, may appeal therefrom to the freedom of information commission, by filing a notice of appeal with said commission.
10. For the Commission to have jurisdiction under 1-21i(b)(1), G.S., to administratively adjudicate whether the respondent violated 1-19(a), G.S., it must first determine whether the respondent is a public agency as defined in 1-18a(a), G.S. For if the respondent is not a public agency, then the information requested by the complainant would neither constitute public records as defined by 1-18a(d), G.S., nor be subject to disclosure under 1-19(a), G.S.
11. It is found that the respondent is a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, a legislative body of the State of Connecticut.
12. It is also found that the complainant had previously requested that the respondent contact the DOT with respect to its denial of the complainant's livery application.
13. It is found that in the context of this case, however, any contact by the respondent with the DOT on behalf of the complainant was not a legislative function, but rather a political constituent service, unrelated to the constitutional or statutory duties of a member of the legislature or of a state official.
14. Consequently, it is concluded that in the context of this case, the respondent is not a public agency, within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
Docket #FIC 94-269 Page 4
15. Because the complainant failed to establish that the information requested constitute public records subject to disclosure under 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S., it is therefore concluded that the Commission lacks jurisdiction to administratively adjudicate the complainant's appeal.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 24, 1995.
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 94-269 Page 5
PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
ETHAN BOOK, JR.
P.O. Box 1385
Fairfield, CT 06430
STATE REPRESENTATIVE JOHN G. METSOPOULOS
c/o Charles H. Walsh, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
55 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission