Ives says ‘hogwash’ to Madigan's support for state auditor
Following recent allegations regarding State Auditor General Frank Mautino — and public pressure for his resignation — District 42 state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) purported that House Speaker Mike Madigan is all too eager to protect Mautino.
"Hogwash,” Ives said. “Speaker Madigan will say anything to keep Mautino from becoming an issue in the fall campaigns. After all, every Democrat voted for the embattled auditor general who is now under both federal and state investigation. He is simply trying to protect his members from public scrutiny for voting for a long-time Madigan ally with no auditing experience as the taxpayers' chief watchdog.”
State Sen. Laura M. Murphy (D-Park Ridge) previously asked Mautino to take a voluntary leave of absence until federal and state investigations are resolved. Additionally, a caucus of 20 Republican legislators issued a House Joint Resolution recommending Mautino’s resignation; Mautino neither responded to inquiries regarding allegations of waylaid campaign funds from his own coffers nor to challenges for him to step down.
“Mr. Mautino has refused to answer questions regarding his campaign expenditure reports,” Ives said. “The expenditures are either illegal or the reporting is extremely sloppy — either case is reason enough for him to be fired as auditor general."
State Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) was a key backer of the proposal to remove Mautino from office. Mautino has gained a reputation as a loyal supporter and valuable ally of House Speaker Mike Madigan during his 24 years as legislator.
"The state auditor general has now confirmed that for one reason or another he does not want to share information regarding investigations into his alleged misuse of campaign funds," Kay said. "Only he can answer those questions, and apparently he has chosen not to do so."
Mautino is under investigation not only from the State Board of Elections, but also the FBI. Lawmakers have asked Madigan to bring resolution HJR 158 to the House floor when the General Assembly reconvenes later this year. Kay, who co-sponsored HJR 158 with Ives, said the state deserves an auditor general “beyond reproach and of the highest ethical standing.”
“Illinoisans deserve a clean government, and … Mautino, by his refusal to respond to public questions surrounding his ethical conduct, has demonstrated that he is unfit to remain in office,” Kay said. "Everything in Springfield happens according to the wishes of Mike Madigan. I think if the Speaker doesn’t act, he’s going to find a lot of pressure coming forward from members of the General Assembly and the general public."
Mautino, who was appointed in October 2015 by the legislature and took office in January, raised red flags soon into his tenure. Among itemized expenditures, certain activities stood out, such as approximately $200,000 spent over a decade on gas and “vehicle repairs” at a single Spring Valley service station, along with $259,000 in payments to a single local bank since 1999, revealed in his campaign finance filings.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into Mautino in May. Kay suggested that Mautino’s title and position absolutely demand transparency; Ives suggested that Mautino step down on his own.
“Frank Mautino cannot effectively do his job as auditor general while defending himself against potential criminal charges and an investigation," Ives said. “If he will not step aside, we have a responsibility as the people’s elected representatives to hold him accountable.”
Madigan continued to aver that Mautino will be “vindicated” as recently as last week.
"My expectation is that at the end of the day … that Frank will be vindicated,” Madigan said. While he admitted that Republican lines of questioning were “understandable,” the Speaker nevertheless responded to the allegations assertively, claiming that "They ought to look at their own house. They seem to have some problems inside their own house and they ought to work on that."
Brandi McGuire, Republican House candidate from District 72-Quad-Cities, said that she was “not surprised” at Madigan’s defense of Mautino.
"I, and many folks on both sides of the aisle, are not surprised that Speaker Madigan is supporting Mautino in his highly questionable campaign spending,” McGuire said. “In the private sector we hold on to the premise ‘do not hire anyone you cannot fire.’ Partisanship in Illinois has made many established politicians blind to the wrongs committed by their own members. This seems to be the case in the Mautino scandal.”
Madigan stated that once Mautino is vindicated, he will continue as auditor general, much to the dismay of those who filed HJR 158.
“Why has the Auditor General not defended himself with facts?” McGuire asked, while expressing hope. “Why is the Auditor General not complying with inquiries by the State Board of Elections and the General Assembly? I believe that the wheels of justice will prevail and Auditor General Mautino will be held accountable."
Mautino has retained an attorney with connections to Madigan. A status hearing is slated for Aug. 29 in Chicago, when officials may set a date for an open hearing.