EDGAR CO. (ECWd) -
Chris Patrick asks: "Do you mean to tell me that it costs the county $4,560.00 to decide between a paperclip and a staple?"
What gave the Edgar County Electoral Board the authority to hire an attorney?
What gave the Edgar County Electoral Board the authority use public funds to pay for this attorney?
What gave the Edgar County Board the authority use public funds to pay for this attorney?
Why did Mr. Patrick allow a vote to pay an invoice that was not valid?
Is this one of those things Mike Heltsley signs all the time without reading it?
Why are WE the ones that have to demand a return of the illegally paid funds?
Edgar County Clerk
At the June 12, 2013 Edgar County Board Meeting, the county clerk reported the costs of the Edgar County Officers Electoral Board that included: $390.00 for settlement of the OMA civil suit, $3,614.25 for an attorney during petition challenges, and $1,093.75 for defending an OMA civil suit against the board.
Immediately after that Mr. Patrick attempted to make people think it was frivolous by stating it was for a decision between staples and paperclips (which we covered in this article).
A Court Order
In articles dating back to 2011, we have reported on the fact that the State's Attorney is the statutory legal advisor of all public bodies/officers of the County of Edgar. This would include public bodies such as the County Board, Airport Board, ETSB (911), Sheriff, Treasurer, and the Edgar County Officers Electoral Board among others.
This is important because it limits who can defend or advise these public bodies and whether or not public funds can be used to pay them. Since the State's Attorney is by statute the legal advisor, a Court Order (Appointment) is required in order to hire an attorney as Special State's Attorney in cases where the Elected State's Attorney cannot fulfill the requirements of that particular case. Absent that court order (appointment), no public funds may be paid to a hired attorney (for a public body of a County).
It is clear that our State's Attorney is aware of this since he recouped public funds from attorneys hired by the ETSB (911) Board and the Edgar County Sheriff and his attorney- all in 2012. (article here)
After that meeting I submitted a FOIA request to the county clerk seeking copies of court orders authorizing the Electoral Board to hire an attorney. There were none.
In light of the above, I filed a letter requesting that the County Clerk demand the return of improperly paid funds in the amount of $4,510.00 to the people of Edgar County. If there is no authority to hire the attorney, there is likewise no authority to pay the attorney. I know, this means the attorney that completed the work essentially performed work without pay - but he should have ensured they had the requisite authority to hire him.
I can only assume that our State's Attorney will send a letter to the hired attorney and demand he reimburse the county for the funds he received when he was not authorized to receive them. I will provide an update on any new developments.
Read the letter and supporting documents below: