File Photo – Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart. | Photo via Lake County TV.

The Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County, which is a county-funded agency, has filed a lawsuit against the Lake County Board for refusing to pay the agency’s legal bills.

Andrew Tangen, Superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County (VACLC), said the lawsuit was filed in late May and a pre-trial conference is scheduled for Tuesday.

The VACLC is a separate county government agency that helps approximately 35,000 veterans and their families that live in Lake County, Tangen said. The VACLC provides financial assistance and free legal services to veterans and their families.

The lawsuit was filed against Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart, all members of the Lake County Board, Lake County Administrator Gary Gibson and Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart.

The suit is asking a judge to force the Lake County Board to pay pending invoices for the VACLC’s attorneys.

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According to a 14-page complaint filed in Lake County Circuit Court, the county government started refusing to pay those invoices in November and asked for unredacted invoices from the VACLC.

The VACLC declined to provide the unredacted invoices, arguing that the county administration does not have the power to approve or disapprove the payment of funds once the VACLC’s superintendent approves the distribution.

Tangen argued in the lawsuit that the county paid the VACLC’s redacted invoices for attorney fees without issue in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

He said that the county administration stopped paying the legal bills and demanded unredacted invoices for the agency’s attorney fees in November, which was when the VACLC filed its appeal for a lawsuit they filed against the Lake County Board in 2018 for a separate matter.

That first lawsuit alleged that the county failed to provide appropriate salaries, enough staff, office space and failed to follow public aid code by providing enough funding.

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A judge sided with the county administration in the first lawsuit and the VACLC appealed the decision to the Illinois Second District Appellate Court. The appeal is still pending.

A spokesperson for the Lake County Government refused to comment on the latest lawsuit, citing their policy not to comment on active lawsuits.