Illinois State Board of Elections Fines Auditor-General’s Campaign Cmte $5000 for Failing to Produce Complete Campaign Records

Springfield, May 15, 2017: The Illinois State Board of Elections is fining the campaign committee of State Auditor, Frank Mautino, $5000 for failing to produce complete records that document how Mautino spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds, when he was a state representative.

Questions arose when a citizen filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections. An examination of Mautino’s campaign spending reports, showed his campaign said it spent some $225,000 at a local gas station, over a 16 year period.

Another $200,000 was allegedly spent by Mautino’s campaign committee at a local bank. But a complaint by an Illinois citizen questions the truthfulness of these campaign related expenses.
File Photo

Mautino, who resigned from the Illinois House after 25 years at the end of 2015, to accept a 10-year term as Illinois’ Auditor-General, was a member of the House Democratic Leadership, and a point man on the budget.

Now, the case of whether the Auditor-General should be forced to account for his own spending on alleged campaign related costs, remains before the Board of Elections, with the Liberty Justice Center, now representing the citizen who filed a complaint with the Board of Elections.
The Liberty Justice Center issued a press release later Monday afternoon.  It follows.
Press Release from the Liberty Justice Center
Liberty Justice Center to seek final ruling that committee broke election laws

SPRINGFIELD (May 15, 2017) – Today, the Illinois State Board of Elections, or ISBE, ruled that the former campaign committee of Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino willfully violated an order by ISBE to file reports with information about campaign vehicles and expenditures the committee made at two Spring Valley, Illinois, businesses.

But ISBE declined to rule on the ultimate issue in the case: whether Mautino’s committee’s failure to properly report his campaign’s expenditures at the businesses violated Illinois campaign disclosure laws.

Jeffrey Schwabstaff attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, released the following statement in response to today’s ruling:

“We are pleased that the board held Mr. Mautino’s committee accountable for flagrantly violating its order. Now we will file a motion asking the board to take the next step and hold him accountable for breaking the law. The evidence in this case shows that’s exactly what the committee did: It used campaign funds for improper purposes and then improperly reported its expenditures to the board.”

Schwab represents David Cooke, a citizen from Streator, Illinois, who filed the complaint against Mautino’s committee. Cooke offered the following reaction:

“It’s outrageous that a public official in a high position of trust would flagrantly violate the board’s order and refuse to produce complete and accurate campaign records. It’s even more outrageous that the man charged as auditor general with making sure the state is spending its money properly didn’t spend his own campaign money properly.”

BACKGROUND: The case began in February 2016, when Cooke, a retired nuclear power plant operator who lives in Streator, Illinois, filed a complaint with ISBE alleging that Mautino’s campaign committee violated the Illinois Campaign Disclosure Act. Specifically, Cooke alleged that payments totaling more than $225,000 that Mautino’s committee made from 1999 to 2015 to Happy’s Super Service Station in Spring Valley, Illinois, could not reasonably have been legitimate payments for fuel and vehicle repairs.

Cooke also challenged approximately $200,000 in “expenditures” the committee reported that it allegedly made to Spring Valley City Bank, but were actually cash withdrawals from the committee’s checking account that were spent elsewhere.

In March 2016, ISBE ordered Mautino’s committee to file amended campaign reports disclosing what vehicles, if any, the committee owned and explaining the payments to Happy’s Super Service and Spring Valley City Bank within 60 days. But the committee never provided the amended reports.

On May 15, ISBE ruled by a majority vote that the committee’s failure to amend its reports was “willful” and without excuse and imposed a $5,000 fine against the committee. But ISBE declined to rule on the merits of Cooke’s complaint, concluding that the issue was not yet properly before it.