Some Kane County Board members question Lauzen's reimbursement request

Labeling them unnecessary taxpayer costs, one-third of the Kane County Board called for closer examination of Chairman Chris Lauzen's expense reimbursement requests this week.

Lauzen submitted receipts totaling $416.80 for expenses that included a Harvard Business School webinar, office supplies, subscriptions to a variety of publications and lunches hosted by the City Club of Chicago.

Board member Myrna Molina led the questioning. She has a history of voting against his expense requests.

"My objective has never been to point out one individual, but rather to point out the inconsistencies between the reimbursement policy and the requests in front of us," Molina said.

She pointed to one reimbursement request missing the 90-day deadline. She also highlighted lunches that conflict with the county policy against meal reimbursement when traveling locally, including to Chicago.

Molina said many of her colleagues are uncomfortable with Lauzen's expenses but fear negative attention from the chairman. Lauzen is already backing three hand-picked candidates to run against Aurora-based incumbents, including Molina, in the Democratic primary.

Molina said Lauzen's expenses represent special treatment no other county employee receives.

"I hope today we send a message to our taxpayers, letting them know we understand they have had to tighten their budgets," Molina said. "Their government should be doing the same."

Seven other board members then joined Molina to vote against the reimbursements. That wasn't enough to prevent the payout.

Lauzen said all his reimbursement requests reflect business expenses. The City Club of Chicago lunches, in particular, are valuable lobbying opportunities with other government officials.

"If we want assistance from other counties on opioid litigation and other matters, then somebody needs to go to those meeting to build relationships," Lauzen said. "These are business expenses. If they become personal expenses they'll look more like cigars and scotch."

Lauzen recognized some of his requests don't fit reimbursement guidelines. But that's not a problem when the board votes to approve them, he said. Lauzen said the total of his reimbursement requests is "less than several thousand dollars" in the six years he's been chairman.

County financial reports indicate more than $11,000 worth of expenses paid to Lauzen during that time. He has a $105,328 base annual salary.

In an interview, Lauzen said Molina is the last person who should accuse any official of wasting tax dollars. He supplied information indicating Molina has missed 40 percent of the meetings she was paid to attend.

Molina said Lauzen is trying to redirect attention away from his own actions. She said she prioritizes attendance at meetings where votes occur in an effort to balance her duties as a working mother.

Myrna Molina
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