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Legal Options for Lee County Supervisors

The three members of the Lee County Board of Supervisors accused of violating Iowa's open meetings law appear to have several options when it comes to legal representation.

County Attorney Mike Short said the county's insurance provider has indicated that it would provide legal representation for Ernie Schiller, Ron Fedler and Rick Larkin if requested.

"(The) county indemnifies as long as you are acting within the scope of the duties," said Short.  "Act outside (of the scope of the duties) and you are on your own to pay the bills."

This despite the fact that the lawsuit does not identify the three as supervisors and does not name Lee County or the entire Lee County Board of Supervisors as defendants.

Short defined acting outside of the scope of the duties of county office as violating the open meetings law and the potential bills as fines associated with violating the law.

Short said they could also hire their own attorneys.

The trio are being accused by seven county residents of holding illegal meetings during the crafting of an ordinance that would have named Fort Madison as the lone county seat.  The ordinance was never called for a vote.

Short, who drafted the ordinance, said he did not witness any violations of the law during the process.

The three supervisors have not been willing to comment on the lawsuit because they had not been served, even though it is available for viewing at the South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.