CHICAGO – Illinois lawmakers want to remove the state’s auditor general from office as federal and state probes continue into the former state representative's questionable spending of campaign finances.
The 20 lawmakers, all Republicans, filed a joint House resolution today calling for the removal of Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino, currently under federal and state investigation over questionable campaign fund expenditures.
The legislators are asking House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) to bring the resolution, HJR 158, to the floor of the House when the Assembly next meets later this year.
State Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon), the key sponsor of the resolution to remove Mautino, said the state deserves an auditor general “beyond reproach and of the highest ethical standing.”
“Illinois deserves an auditor general free from any overhanging financial investigations, including a federal investigation for potential illegal campaign expenditures and a state investigation for the same," Kay said at a press conference today at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago.
“As the auditor general labors under the weight of state and federal investigations, which could continue for a long duration of time, the citizens of Illinois and the General Assembly must have complete, unreserved confidence that the Office of Auditor General is able to operate effectively and without the hint of scandal," Kay said.
The lawmakers earlier had asked Mautino to take unpaid leave while the federal investigation proceeds. Kay said Mautino failed to respond to requests by legislators for information.
“Illinoisans deserve a clean government, and Auditor General 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.
Mautino was appointed as auditor general by the General Assembly in October and took office in January. Almost immediately, questions arose about campaign finance spending during his 24 year tenure as a member of the House of Representatives.
A Democrat from that small downstate town of Spring Valley, Mautino rose through the ranks in the Democratic Party to become Deputy Majority Leader.
He is now facing numerous inquiries, including that concerning the approximately $200,000 spent over 10 years on gas and vehicle repairs at a single Spring Valley service station.
Mautino also made $259,000 in payments to a local bank since 1999, his campaign finance filings said.
In May, it was disclosed that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating Mautino. The Illinois State Board of Elections has also launched its own probe into Mautino's campaign finances.
Mautino sought a stay on the Board of Elections investigation while the federal probe continues. Board members on Monday voted 5-3 to continue the investigation.
In a separate motion, the board decided to give Mautino two weeks to file amended reports. If no reports are filed, the case will go to a public hearing, which would give the person who filed the complaint subpoena power.
Mautino’s attorney said the auditor general could invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination because of the ongoing federal investigation into campaign spending, a report by the Illinois News Network said.
Kay, flanked by three of his colleagues at the press conference Wednesday, is pressing Madigan to bring the resolution to the floor of the House.
"Everything in Springfield happens according to the wishes of Mike Madigan," Kay said. "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."
Kay said the auditor general is a position in which transparency is at the very heart of the job itself, adding that this official must be able to "operate effectively and without the hint of scandal."
"Illinoisans deserve a clean government, and Auditor General Mautino has done nothing to suggest he is up to the task,” Kay said.
Kay said the resolution gives Mautino the opportunity to address both houses of the state legislature and to respond to the charges against him.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Dist. 42), a co-sponsor of the resolution, said action needs to be taken.
“Frank Mautino cannot effectively do his job as auditor general while defending himself against potential criminal charges and a State Election Board investigation," Ives said. “If he will not do the right thing on his own and step aside, we have a responsibility as the people’s elected representatives to hold him accountable.”
A spokesman for Mautino said today that the auditor general had no comment on the resolution.