The Fourth District Appellate Court on Tuesday ruled that the Illinois State Board of Elections must revisit allegations that embattled Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino's campaign committee made more than $200,000 in illegal payments while he served as a state representative, according to a press release from the Liberty Justice Center.
The Liberty Justice Center provides legal representation to David Cooke of Streator, who as a private citizen, took action against Mautino claiming he violated campaign disclosure laws.
Mautino currently faces state and federal investigations involving allegations of misspending. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent to avoid incriminating himself a federal investigation.
Cooke's case is being sent back to the Board of Elections, with an order that it must rule on whether payments made by the Mautino committee exceeding $225,000 to Happy's Super Service Station in Spring Valley were legitimate payments for fuel and vehicle repairs, the release states. It must also decide whether nearly $200,000 in expenditures to Spring Valley City Bank were illegal.
Senior attorney for the Liberty Justice Center Jeffrey Schwab said its client Cooke claims that Mautino, who served as a state representative of the 76th District, spent campaign funds illegally for 16 of the 24 years he was in that office.
Mautino, a Democrat, was appointed auditor general in December 2015, succeeding William Holland who retired in the third year of his 10-year term. Mautino's confirmation was nearly unanimous, with only 10 state representatives voting against it, and a unanimous decision by senators.
In spite of calls from Republican lawmakers to step down while investigations play out, Mautino has continued to serve as the state's top auditor - a role that ensures taxpayer money is being properly spent.
Schwab said it was crucial that the matter gets resolved.
“Illinois has a long history of public corruption, and that’s why this case matters so much," he stated in a press release. "No elected official is above the law – and if there was wrongdoing, Auditor General Mautino must be held accountable.”