Mautino urged to exit with 'black eye' before bruising integrity of the office
Frank Mautino should resign as Illinois' auditor general for the good of his office, a former Chicago official-turned-government watchdog said on a conservative radio talk show.
"Nothing has been proven yet, but it casts a big shadow over his office," Faisal Khan, Chicago's former and only legislative inspector general, said about federal and state investigations into Mautino's campaign spending.
"In order for his office to function most effectively, it might be better than he does step aside until this matter is resolved," he said. "I don't think he should lose his job yet but, at the same time, the dignity and integrity of the office is a most important thing for anyone in that position."
Hearings began a few weeks ago before the Illinois Board of Elections over Mautino's questionable use of campaign contributions before he was appointed auditor general in 2015.
"Inspectors general, auditors general, anyone who has a job in higher authority has to be held to a higher standard," Kahn said. "If I'm an inspector general investigating other people and putting out reports and information about other people, I have to make sure that my house is clean, too, or that I'm not engaging in any misconduct in any way. And the fact that there are significant allegations against Mr. Mautino right now that rise, potentially, to the level of criminality, is a black eye."
"Illinois Rising" is co-hosted by Illinois Opportunity Project co-founder Dan Proft, who is Liberty Principles PAC chairperson and treasurer, as well as a senior fellow at the Chicago-based conservative think tank Illinois Policy Institute. "Illinois Rising" is a presentation of the Illinois Policy Institute.
Proft is also a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Mautino has endured criticism over his questionable use of campaign contributions almost as long has he's been in office, though most news outlets have all but ignored the controversy. Streator resident and former Streator High School Board member David Cooke has been pursuing the allegations against Mautino before the Board of Election.
Documents filed in that case indicate a federal criminal investigation has been underway and that Mautino cited his rights under the Fifth Amendment in the investigation. Mautino also never responded to calls from a handful of state lawmakers that he answer questions or resign.
Mautino has refused to answer questions about his spending of almost $200,000 in campaign contributions for gas and car repairs at Happy's Super Service in Spring Valley and more than $200,000 in payments to Spring Valley City Bank. Prior to his appointment as auditor general, the now 53-year-old Mautino served in the Illinois House beginning 1991 and was deputy majority leader since 2011. He served 18 years on the Legislative Audit Commission before resigning to apply for the auditor post.
His father, Rep. Richard “Dick” Mautino, served in the House from 1975 until his death in 1991.
Kahn pointed to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session's decision to recuse himself from Russia-related investigations into undisclosed communications with Russian officials, saying stepping aside during an investigation is quite common in the private and public sector.
"So this is not a precedent we're asking for here," Kahn said. "This is behavior that goes on in all sorts of high levels of government."
As hearings in the Mautino case got underway, news surfaced that a separate investigation was also underway into how top Democrats in the state allegedly obtained patronage jobs during the administration of former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Those allegations are not especially new. In 2014, Quinn found himself in court over similar accusations that he'd stacked the state's Department of Transportation with his own political hires.
The accusations against Mautino, Quinn and others in Illinois are all too common, Kahn said.
"I learned water is wet," he said. "I learned that during a cold December in Chicago."