By: Mark Glennon*
Governor Quinn this week signed HB 4216 that criminalizes hiding or destroying public records by government officials.
It provides that, “Any person who knowingly, without lawful authority and with the intent to defraud any party, public officer, or entity, alters, destroys, defaces, removes, or conceals any public record commits a Class 4 felony.”
Nice idea, but the problem is that proving intent is always very difficult, and intent to “defraud” doesn’t really fit this issue. Fraud is basically deception — trying to trick somebody. Concealing or destroying records is not the kind of wrong easily tied to intent to defraud. I’d be surprised if a prosecutor could ever get a conviction out of this.
Still, maybe it will give public officials an additional reason to pause before covering something up by destroying or hiding incriminating materials, so it’s a step in the right direction.
The bill was sponsored by state Rep Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights. He’s no doubt related to a Tony DeLuca I went to high school with in Chicago Heights. That Tony DeLuca was the toughest kid in Chicago Heights, which says something. Nobody messed with him. Maybe this one is a reformer. God knows his Cook County Democratic Party could use a reformer who knows how to kick ass.
*Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints