FOIA Advisor

Q&A: Illegal political leak?

Q&A (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Q.  I was a candidate in a recent election for public office.  My former employer, who was an opposing candidate, released a report from my personnel file through the FOIA.  According to everything I have read, it was illegal for him to release this report without my permission.  Is this correct?

A.  Probably not.  It is true that the Virginia FOIA authorizes an agency to withhold personnel records in response to a request, except for records of an employee's position, job classification, salary (if over $10k), and expense reimbursements (all of which must be disclosed).  The Virginia FOIA, however, does not prohibit the dissemination of personnel records to third parties in response to a request.  See, e.g., Virginia Freedom of Information Council, Advisory Opinion 28-01 (May 31, 2001).  For further guidance, you might wish to contact the Virginia Freedom of Information Council.