For 25 years Frank Mautino was the Democrat state Representative for Bureau and LaSalle counties in North Central Illinois. Since 2011 Mautino was Speaker of the House and Democrat Party Boss Michael Madigan’s, Deputy Majority Leader, the number 3 Democrat in the Illinois House. In October Mautino was appointed by Madigan and approved by the Democrat controlled legislature to a ten year term as the states Auditor General, a position he had helped oversee as part of a legislative committee.
Since taking the job at the start of the year Mautino has been embroiled in a growing controversy over his campaign spending that has already drawn calls for his resignation less than a month on the job, all because of the investigative work of a handful of citizen watchdogs, not the Chicago media.
Open The Books founder Adam Andrzejewski, The Edgar County Watchdogs, myself, Ottawa(IL) Times investigative reporter David Giuliani, and the Illinois Times a Springfield based weekly paper have been dogging Mautino with questions for weeks after it was discovered by the Illinois Times that he solicited over $15,000 in campaign donations to pay off his campaign debts, shred decades worth of documents, and close his office after it was well known that he was going to get the Auditor General job. However, Mautino had paid off the campaign debts he had months prior to the donations he got in the fall.
This prompted myself, the Edgar County Watchdogs, and Andrzejewski to begin looking into Mautino’s campaign expenditures going back to 1999. The results have resulted in multiple calls for investigations into Mautino’s campaign spending, and several calls for his resignation.
In total Mautino spent more than $284,000 in campaign vehicle repairs and gas, $213,000 of that being spent in 10 years at Happy’s service station in Mautino’s hometown of Spring Valley. Over that 10 year span Mautino was spending on average $55 a day at Happy’s.
David Giuliani found that Mautino spent nearly $78,000 for meals, more than $32,000 of that at a restaurant owned by his wife’s family.
The Edgar County Watchdogs, who have a history of exposing politicians acting badly, found that Mautino also had nearly $300,000 in expenditures at his local bank for travel to Chicago, and for campaign volunteers. This was a bank that was also holding Mautino’s campaign debt, was giving him loans, and contributions.
Questions are also being asked of Mautino about the lack of any records showing him paying rent for 8 years(1999-2006), and why he was only paying $100 a month since 2007 for office rent while making $38,000 worth of expenditures for repairs which included replacing the floor, repaving the parking lot, and replacing the furnace, not typical repairs a landlord makes a tenant pay for, with campaign money.
That campaign money, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth every election cycle, even during elections when he was unopposed, came from business and trade association groups, unions, and other allies of Michael Madigan.
As the scandal around his campaign spending has grown Mautino has refused to answer questions from anyone, and in a sure sign of guilt, had a PR firm say that he would answer questions “at the right time”.
It hasn’t been WLS, or the Chicago Tribune, or WGN, or any other major Chicago or Springfield media outlet that has been pushing the investigation into obviously irregular spending by a top Lt. to the most power man in Illinois, its been a pair of veterans, a blogger, a small town newspaper reporter, and a government transparency pioneer who lives by the motto “Every dime, online, in real time.”
Those questions will be answered, the investigation will continue, and Frank Mautino’s time as the top fiscal watchdog in the state will be short lived.