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Mautino says expenditures “standard, reasonable”

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016

* Press release from Auditor General Frank Mautino’s non-governmental spokesman…

Frank Mautino served his north-central district with distinction in the Illinois House for 24 years, where he held a number of leadership positions, provided exemplary service to his communities and built a record of a number of legislative accomplishments.

During his legislative career, Frank ran for re-election every two years. His campaign committee, Committee for Frank J. Mautino, fully disclosed and reported all spending by the campaign in compliance with Illinois campaign finance and disclosure laws. His reports fully detail campaign expenditures that were made to help defray the standard, reasonable expenses incurred while Frank performed the governmental and public service duties of serving as state representative of his large, mostly rural district.

Upon his nomination as Auditor General, Frank’s career in elected office ended and he closed out his campaign committee at the end of December 2015.

* As we discussed yesterday, his main problem is explaining $213,338.31 in gas and auto repair bills between March of 2005 and December of 2015.

I searched the State Board of Elections’ expenditure category for the word “repair” - not car repair, or auto repair, but just the word repair, which could be anything - for all campaign committees during the entire online era. I came up with $1,507,091.40 in expenditures since October of 1999. Mautino actually has the first disclosure of “repair” on the searched list.

Now, do the same “repair” search for all of Mautino’s expenditures and you end up with $262,067.52 since 1999.

That means Mautino’s share of all repair expenditures for all candidates and committees over more than 16 years is a whopping 17.4 percent.

I don’t know if his repair bills were “reasonable,” but they clearly weren’t “standard.”

* Also, this

In the weeks leading up to the general election of 2010, Mautino spent $8,000 on poll watchers, plus $2,750 for precinct walkers plus an additional $2,050 for precinct workers. Quite a chunk of change, considering that Mautino was unopposed at the ballot box that fall.

It wasn’t the first time that Mautino shelled out thousands for poll watchers and precinct workers while running unopposed. In the general election of 2008, he spent $10,000 on poll watchers, even though he didn’t have an opponent, according to his campaign finance reports.

The money, all paid out in round figures, was received by Spring Valley City Bank, according to Mautino’s campaign reports. It’s not clear why the bank reportedly got money for work unrelated to banking. A source at the Illinois State Board of Elections said that campaigns must accurately identify the recipient of campaign funds in the event a recipient receives more than $150. If a recipient receives less in a reporting period, the expense need not be itemized.

A woman at the bank said that there was no one available to discuss the institution’s relationship with Mautino, which dates back more than a decade, with Mautino receiving both loans and campaign contributions, according to records at the state elections board. Mautino could not be reached for comment. He did not return a phone call last week to answer questions surrounding his campaign spending (“Questionable Campaign Spending,” Jan. 22, 2016).

Mautino’s campaign routinely reported giving money to the bank for expenses unrelated to banking, and the money often came in round figures. Since 2012, Mautino’s campaign reported giving more than $56,600 to the bank in dozens of expenditures. At least 41 of those disbursements were in round figures, according to campaign reports.

The campaign reported giving the bank money for travel expenses, parking and meeting expenses. Consider a stretch in 2014, when the campaign reported giving $750 in five round-figure expenditures to Spring Valley City Bank between May 5 and June 28 for expenses that had nothing to do with banking. According to campaign reports, the money was used for “Chicago meeting traveling expenses,” “traveling expenses,” “Chicago meeting parking expenses” and “Springfield meeting.” The records don’t indicate who attended meetings or what, specifically, was included in travel expenses.

Mautino had one major campaign this century, in 2014. He is a major Democratic player in that area, though, so he could’ve been subsidizing other campaigns.

Either way, he needs to clear this up. Right now.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 10:38 am:

    =Either way, he needs to clear this up. Right now.=


    Frank, If you do not believe Rich, please google Aaron Schock.

  2. - The Captain - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 10:41 am:

    I don’t have a reasonable explanation for the repair issue but on the latter issue of pollwatchers and election day workers that one is less of an issue. He was the county chairman, so even if he didn’t have an election he had good reason to pay election day workers. He could do that either out of a party campaign committee or out of his own campaign committee, both are permissisble. The probable reason those numbers are round numbers is it’s common to get cash out of the bank, use that cash to pay election day workers and then deposit back into the bank any remaining funds. So long as you are not paying any election day worker > $150 those individual payments to E-day workers do not have to be itemized, however if the payment was > $20 you are required to keep a written record in your files of the name and address of the payee. So it makes sense that on the disclosure forms you see payments in round numbers to the bank, that was just a draw for cash used to pay election day workers that most likely were not required to be itemized.

  3. - ILPundit - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 10:45 am:

    I’ve been up in Frank’s neck of the woods doing precincts on election day over the years. He has been the top dog Democrat who runs the GOTV in his area for decades. Those GOTV expenditures don’t strike me as out of line for him, considering his role, one bit.

    As far as the gas and expenses, I’d like to hear more. But using Occam’s Razor, I suspect Frank had an open account at that service station that allowed himself and his staff to fill their tank as needed and charge it to the account. If the place does repairs as well, which appears to be the case, its not had to imagine racking up a large “repair” bill if he’s counting routine maintenance (i.e. oil changes etc)

    Call me naive, but knowing Frank’s personality, I really doubt there is much to this at all.

  4. - Juice - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 10:45 am:

    On the 2010 payments, keep in mind that Mautino would have been to go to person for the area for both Pat Quinn and Alexi, so he would have been making expenditures for that. He was also heavily involved in the Careen Gordon/Sue Rezin race that year. So yes, while he was unopposed, there was still plenty of campaign work to be done. And on that payment going to the bank, I kinda figure that is a smaller scale version of the mass purchase or prepaid debit cards. Still not transparent, but not necessarily as out of the ordinary as one might imagine.

    On the vehicle repairs, I definitely think the amounts look worse than the payments in round numbers.

  5. - cdog - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 10:47 am:

    There is also a chronology problem with these “repair bills.” If a person spent some of those amounts of money, in short time frames, guess what? Should have bought a new car!

    Writing checks to a bank? That’s how I get cash….

    This is appearing to be very inappropriate for any auditor, let alone The Auditor.


  6. - Langhorne - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 10:49 am:

    This issue centers on his activities as a rep, prior to becoming AG. It is highly inappropriate to use an employee and resources of the auditor generals office to mount a defense.

  7. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 10:51 am:

    This response is inadequate and makes things look worse. At this point, Mautino needs to respond with specifics. “Standard and reasonable” sounds like he’s hiding behind wiggle words.

  8. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 10:52 am:

    ===highly inappropriate to use an employee and resources of the auditor generals office===

    It’s a private PR guy. I’ll amend up top.

  9. - Old Timer - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 10:53 am:

    Just great. This issue should have been resolved before he became AG.

  10. - Juice - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 10:54 am:

    It should probably be noted, so readers are aware, that the group most definitely wear tri-cornered tin foil hats on a regular basis.

    I mean, in this series on Frank, they go after him for not forcing Warren Ribley and Andy Ross to testify at the NRI hearings. Both of them did end up testifying at the hearings, so that they are simply making up.

  11. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 10:54 am:

    For what he spent on repairs, Mr. Mautino could have purchased a nice, new vehicle every two years. Something doesn’t add up. I had some major work done last year on my old vehicle. I had the breaks completely replaced, some wiring redone and suspension work completed. The total was about $2,000 - and that was an amount the shop owner considered “major repairs”. Yes, the work was done at a hometown garage and not an ASE certified shop. But still…if my old jalopy of an SUV had major reconstructive surgery and it only ran me that amount, then Mr. Mautino’s bills don’t pass my smell test.

    If he was having work done for other local candidates, that should’ve been reported as an in-kind contribution to those candidates. And if it was federal, then that’s a whole other mess.

    Rich’s mention yesterday about Senator McCann’s massive mileage reimbursements is a good reminder to public servants that playing fast-and-loose with campaign funds is a good way to get someone looking around your committee and your practices. And since it’s public information that’s required by law to be posted, there’s no way to stop the scrutiny and the ensuing questions.

  12. - Frenchie Mendoza - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 10:56 am:

    Nearly a quarter of a million dollars in gas and repairs?

    That’s mind boggling — even for multiple vehicles.

    I mean, the question folks should ask is what cars were these? Lamborghinis? Corvettes?

    I have a Ranger Pickup. 2002. I’ve maybe — maybe — spent 3,000 on repairs — and that’s including 2K for a brand new clutch.

    What a weird, weird story.

  13. - if_it_walks_like_a_duck - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 11:05 am:

    Any rational person with half a brain can see that this stinks to high heaven.

    I will anxiously await the AG’s paperwork to back-up these “expenses”.

  14. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 11:06 am:

    I think the assumption that a lot of elected officials have - and please note that I said “assumption” and not an ironclad belief - is simple: people won’t pay attention to things like this. Members of Congress often have a two year lease on a district vehicle and pay $1,000 a month out of their office budgets. That’s nuts, but it’s common. It’s really just easier to buy a vehicle out campaign funds and then be in the clear. D-2s and FEC reports aren’t the easiest reports to read, and a lot of campaign folks figure that murky things like “mileage reimbursements” and “gas for campaign” will be glossed over. Just my take.

  15. - Lincoln Lad - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 11:07 am:

    I don’t think the explanation would be accepted by an auditor. They would expect specific information, and so should we.

  16. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 11:11 am:

    Frank just made this worse.

  17. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 11:13 am:

    Plus the restaurant expenditures, and more.

  18. - Apocalypse - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 11:34 am:

    This guy is suppose to be auditing the state government to make sure they are in compliance with regulations and the budget!!!

  19. - Anon2U - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 11:53 am:

    I think we are about to see the power of Speaker Madigan. Can/does he stand in the way of any investigation by the General Assembly or, perhaps, law enforcement? How far does he go to protect a top lieutenant here?

  20. - My New Handle - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 11:54 am:

    With a response like that, it should have been attached to a letter of resignation. Nothing less than full disclosure in his first response is required and it was not there. In the office he holds, integrity is number one.

  21. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:07 pm:

    === Just great. This issue should have been resolved before he became AG. ===

    Well, someone has to find it. How come you didn’t do this research before he became AG?

  22. - justacitizen - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:08 pm:

    Response is not acceptable any general assembly member, and especially not acceptable for one who is appointed Auditor General. Responses by the Legislative Audit Commission, will be interesting.

  23. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:12 pm:

    Does the Auditor Generals office scrutinize state university expenditures?

  24. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:22 pm:

    Mautino won our poll:

    Is Ms. Modelski still available?

  25. - Fishy? - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:44 pm:

    I’ve always liked Frank, bit this whole thing seems fishy. His response doesn’t help him at all. I bet he’s wishing he would’ve stayed put as a rep and maybe this stuff continues to be unnoticed–or at least unreported.

  26. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:45 pm:

    Frank, you need to come clean about this now. You have a cloud over your head and it will haunt you unless you clear this up. Please. If there’s an innocent explanation, we need it and we need it with detail. If there’s not an innocent explanation, better lawyer up.

    As someone who likes Frank, I find it hard to believe he engaged in wholesale conversion of cash (what it looks like now). But his explanations for these expenses are simply not credible.

  27. - Louis Howe - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:55 pm:

    His father, the former St. Rep. Rich Mautino, was always a wheeler-dealer type, but an honest guy. I was very surprised that Frank became the Auditor General because he didn’t seem to me to be a detail type of guy either. I hope there’s nothing except lax accounting going on.

  28. - nobody - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 1:12 pm:

    Let’s give Frank some time to go through his records and issue his detailed statement. 16 years of records probably aren’t available at the touch of a button as many of the records were probably done on paper as Frank’s office was not the most technologically up-to-date, which anyone who has ever visited his office could certainly tell you.

  29. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 1:19 pm:

    Frank should be scrutinized as a Illinois politician without the preface of ‘nice guy’.

  30. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 1:38 pm:

    Nobody, if that’s the case then the statement should say “We are reviewing x years of paper records and expect to have a detailed accounting by noon on Wednesday.” Or something that makes it clear that he is not simply hiding under his desk and hoping this will go away

  31. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 1:40 pm:

    ==16 years of records probably aren’t available at the touch of a button==

    Could Frank at least start with one month’s worth of expenses to one vendor (Happy’s Super Service)?

    Dec 3, 2015: $1,046.56 for gasoline & vehicle repair.
    Dec 6, 2015: $157.96 for gasoline.
    Dec 9, 2015: $125.00 for gasoline.

  32. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 1:42 pm:

    It looks to me that Frank had a charge account at Happy’s Service Station (The only one in town by the way) We are not talking repairs, this is more likely gasoline. It has not been that long ago that it cost $80 to fill a tank. Do that 2 times a week- it adds up fast. I am sure there are new tires/brakes/oil changes and other repairs. When Frank did not have a race, he was helping others get elected. There is nothing to see here. Comparing his spending (voluntary giving) to Schock’s spending (tax dollars) is disingenuous to say the least.

  33. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 1:50 pm:

    ===It has not been that long ago that it cost $80 to fill a tank. Do that 2 times a week- it adds up fast===


    Just $12,000 a year to go before explaining this away.

  34. - Annoni' - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 1:54 pm:

    When you enter Gas there are 23,549 entries for $2.004 million; “Gasoline” 11,802 for $987,444 and auto expense 60 for $22,683
    Lots of choices

  35. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 1:57 pm:

    I just want to know when did a BANK become a one stop shop for political expendatures?

  36. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 3:29 pm:

    Frankly, this appears to be a hit piece intended to ask questions that cannot be answered and damage the new AGs credibility.

    Why do I draw this conclusion? These records have been publicly available to anyone interested for many years and have certainly been perused by countless opposition researchers who did not see any there there. Mautino moved out of his office in December; it is a fair bet that he discarded all of his records except the two years worth required by law. Most of the questions being raised are about expenditures from more than two years ago, the records for which are probably long gone and which the folks pushing this are most certainly counting on.

    While I understand that politics ain’t beanbag, I think the savvy readers of this blog should recognize an orchestrated hit when they see one.

  37. - Big Muddy - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 4:29 pm:

    A hit piece. LOL
    Maybe Frank really is inept.
    Maybe he thought this was okay.
    Maybe he thought no one would ever know.
    Maybe he thought he was above the law.
    Maybe he thought Madigan would protect him.
    Maybe he better find a lawyer.
    Hit piece. That’s rich.

  38. - Lincoln Lad - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 6:02 pm:

    How about a simple explanation of $200,000 in auto repairs over a 10 year period? That is a few sentences to explain how that could be. That level of problem is not standard, nor reasonable. It is exceptional and would be remembered. Someone isn’t being forthright here, and the only ‘reasonable’ part of this is that the explanation provided indicates that there is something to hide.

  39. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Jan 27, 16 @ 7:59 am:

    ==How about a simple explanation of $200,000 in auto repairs over a 10 year period? That is a few sentences to explain how that could be. ==

    Gasoline and maintenance on several vehicles used by Mautino and folks working on campaigns in his rural district. And, guess what, that explanation will not be seen as good enough. I expect complaints that there are no receipts from 10 years ago. I also expect that those records were cleaned out in December. Maybe not, but most people clean house when they take a new job. At its core, this hit is based primarily on innuendo, which requires little actual evidence.

  40. - Lincoln Lad - Wednesday, Jan 27, 16 @ 9:21 am:

    The details already provided indicate $20K+ in fuel, and another $200K in repairs. All at one specific location. That’s not innuendo. Calling it such is spin. That’s what you do when the truth needs to be hidden.

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