FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

 

In the Matter of a Request
    for Advisory Opinion

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)     Advisory Opinion   #8

 

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Alberto Ibarguen, Executive Director of the State Elections Commission, Applicant

)     January 7, 1976

 

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On December 10, 1975, the Commission considered and granted the request for advisory ruling from the State Elections Commission concerning the application of Public Act 75‑342 to that agency.

 

The request submitted by the State Elections Commission was set forth in a letter by its executive director who asked whether or not the Commission is subject to the Jurisdiction of the Freedom of Information Commission. In addition, the Elections Cormmission transmitted a lengthy appendix consisting of several attachments. It then asked whether or not certain procedures the Elections Commission has been following with regard to disclosure of information on pending investigations under 9‑368b G.S. are consistent with the letter and spirit of P.A. 75‑342. This question is too broad for a concise answer and none will be given. The Freedom of Information Commission calls to the attention of this and other future applicants under 4‑176 G.S. that the attachment of a plethora of vaguely relevant papers to a request for advisory ruling did not help it to resolve the issues. Such a practice here only served to confuse and obscure the issue and, consequently, should be avoided.

 

The State Elections Commission is found to be within the Jurisdiction of the Freedom of Information Commission and is subject to all of the requirements of P.A. 75‑342 for the reasons that follow. The State Elections Commission is a public agency because it is within the definition of "executive, administrative or legislative office of the state," as set forth in 1(a) of the Act.

 

 

The request for an advisory ruling then asked for advice by the Commission as to whether or not certain activities of the State Elections Commission may cause it to fall within one or more of the exceptions set forth in Subsection 2(b)(2) of P.A. 75-342.

A letter attached to the request for an advisory ruling alludes to 9‑368 G.S. and argues that, while that statute does not in terms call the State Elections Commission "a law enforcement agency," that public agency does function as an investigatory agency in the area of election laws.

 

The State Elections Commission is neither more nor less a "law enforcement agency" than is the Public Utilities Control Authority, the Office of Emergency Medical Services, the Department of Consumer Protection, the Motor Vehicles Department, the Commission on Hospitals and Health Care, and the remainder of a broad spectrum of administrative agencies of the State of Connecticut. All of these boards, commissions, and departments have delegated to them by the General Assembly the duty to enforce laws that may or may not for some purposes be found to involve criminal sanctions, non‑criminal orders concerning compliance, and various remedies customarily submitted for enforcement by both the criminal and the civil sides of the court.

 

The powers enumerated in 9‑368b clearly state a mixture of criminal and civil authority that is so completely intermingled that this Commission cannot conclude that all of the investigations of the State Elections Commission relate to the detection and investigation of crime.

 

For this reason the Freedom of Information Commission concludes that it must treat all matters involving the State Elections Commission on a case by case basis and review on their respective facts each and every complaint the Commission may in the future receive concerning the compliance of the State Elections Commission with P.A. 75‑342.

 

                                                                                            By Order of the Freedom of
                                                                                            Information Commission

                                                                                           

                                                                                ________________________
                                                                                            Herbert Brucker, Chairman of
                                                                                            of the Freedom of Information
                                                                                            Commission

Date ___________________

 

Ordered_________________

Louis J. Tapogna, Clerk