Attorney General's Opinion 1982-83 #721



August 20, 1982

The Honorable William R. O'Brien
Member, House of Delegates

82-83 721

This is in reply to your letter received on August 13, 1982, in which you asked my opinion on the applicability of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act to social functions, such as Cocktail parties, attended by members of a city Council. A typical invitation was enclosed with your letter. The invitation to attend the cocktail party indicated that it was being spondored by the Chamber of Commerce in recognition of outstanding service performed by the present and retiring members of the city council.

Section 2.1-343 of the ode of Virginia requires that all "meetings" of public bodies, including local governing bodies, shall be public meetings, except as otherwise provided by law. Section 2.1-341, which defines what constitutes a meeting,1 contains a proviso which reads in pertinent part as follows:

"Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to make unlawful the gathering or attendance of two or more members of a body or entity at any place or function where no part of the purpose of such gathering or attendance is the discussion or transaction of any public business, and such gathering or attendance was not called or prearranged with any purpose of discussing or transacting any business of the body or entity."

It is clear from the foregoing quoted provision that social functions attended by members of public bodies do not fall within the purview of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, in absence of evidence that such occasion was prearranged with the purpose of discussing or transacting any business of that public body.



1 Section 2.1-341 (a) provides in part that "meetings" means the "meetings, when sitting as a body or entity, or as an informal assemblage of (i) as many as three members, or (ii) a quorum, if less than three, of the constituent membership, wherever held...."