Lipscomb asked to repay taxpayers for frivilous lawsuit

WiG and AP

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is calling on the county board’s chairman Theo Lipscomb to reimburse taxpayers for costs related to an unauthorized lawsuit Lipscomb filed against him.

Lipscomb spent an estimated $150,000 in legal fees to seek legal clarification on whether Abele has unilateral authority to award pay raises to political appointees who aren’t covered by civil service rules.

Lipscomb, who’s supporting state Sen. Chris Larson’s bid to unseat Abele on April 5, also said he wants a judge to decide whether Abele is obligated to attend board meetings at the request of county supervisors.

Judge William Sosnay ruled two weeks ago that Lipscomb has no authority to sue unilaterally without a resolution from the board of supervisors.

Lipscomb told The Associated Press he plans to refile the lawsuit.

Abele, however, is asking supervisors to consider a resolution ensuring that no taxpayer dollars are spent on the unauthorized lawsuit.

Implicit in the court’s ruling that chairman Lipscomb didn’t have the unilateral authority to file this unauthorized lawsuit is that the chairman also did not have authority to spend taxpayer dollars on the lawsuit,” according to a statement from Abele’s office.

Our system of checks and balances ensures that taxpayer resources cannot just be spent by elected officials however they like, the statement added.

“The right thing for the county board to do at this point would be to hold the county financially harmless for this unauthorized lawsuit,” Abele said in the statement. “The board should have the right to bring lawsuits where it’s appropriate; however, as elected officials we must set the highest standards for when taxpayer dollars are spent on legal fees above and beyond the full-time legal department employed by the county.

“The we were elected to serve would much rather we devote our time, energy, and taxpayer resources to solving problems, not creating them.”