FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-50-01


December 11, 2001

Mr. Karl Santone
Gordonsville, Virginia

The staff of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your letter of November 27, 2001.

Dear Mr. Santone:

You have requested an opinion on the question of whether the record exemption for correspondence invoked by a county administrator was proper under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). You indicate that under FOIA you requested a copy of a letter dated September 12, 2001, from the county administrator to the members of the county board of supervisors concerning the "Responses to Citizen Inquiries" received by the county. You indicated that the county administrator declined your FOIA request, citing subsection A. 6. of § 2.2-3705 of the Code of Virginia, which provides for the withholding of correspondence and working papers of certain enumerated public officials.

Subsection A. 6. of § 2.2-3705 of the Code of Virginia exempts from mandatory disclosure [w]orking papers and correspondence of the Office of the Governor; Lieutenant Governor; the Attorney General; the members of the General Assembly or the Division of Legislative Services; the mayor or chief executive officer of any political subdivision of the Commonwealth; or the president or other chief executive officer of any public institution of higher education in Virginia. However, no record which is otherwise open to inspection under this chapter shall be deemed exempt by virtue of the fact that it has been attached to or incorporated within any working paper or correspondence. (Emphasis added). This exemption allows the chief executive officer of any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, in this case, the county administrator, to withhold from disclosure working papers or correspondence. As the chief executive officer, the county administrator may properly invoke this exemption to withhold correspondence between her and the board of supervisors.

Thank you for contacting this office. I hope that I have been of assistance.


Maria J.K. Everett
Executive Director