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Appellate Court again rules against Mautino’s campaign committee

Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

* Derek Barichello at Shaw Media

Two years after an initial elections complaint, an Appellate Court ruled Monday former state Rep. Frank Mautino’s campaign committee further violated election codes.

The ruling stated the committee’s expenses at a bank and at a Spring Valley gas station for gas and repairs of personal vehicles were violations.

Election code states gas and repairs of personal vehicles should be reimbursed through mileage reporting, and should not exceed fair market value. Between 1999 and 2015, the campaign committee reported $225,109.19 in expenditures to a Spring Valley gas station for gas and vehicle repairs.

“Now it’s clear to any candidate in Illinois the way to handle vehicle expenses is through mileage, you can’t just fill up people’s gas tanks,” said Jeffrey Schwab, an attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, representing Streator resident David Cooke, who brought forward the appeal.

The appellate court said the Board of Elections must now consider further fines. The now-defunct committee was fined $5,000 in May 2017 by the Illinois Board of Elections for failing to produce records. The fine has not been paid, as the committee has disbanded.

* Madison-St. Clair Record

Justice James Knecht wrote that evidence clearly established the committee made expenditures to a third party for gas and repairs in violation of the code.

“The board’s decision to the contrary is clearly erroneous,” Knecht wrote. “The record is not clear as to the reasoning of the four members who voted against finding a violation.” […]

Last year, Fourth District judges remanded the complaint for the board to issue rulings on Cooke’s claims.

They directed the board to amend its reconsideration order to show Mautino’s committee violated code on accounting and reporting. […]

Four Republicans [on the State Board of Elections] voted to find violations and four Democrats voted against it.

[David Cooke of Streator, who filed the complaint against Mautino] appealed again and prevailed again.

* From the opinion

As a final matter, we recognize some members of the Board who voted against finding violations of section 9-8.10(a)(9) suggested they did so because they concluded any violation was not “knowingly” committed. On appeal, Cooke contends the evidence established the Committee committed knowing violations and the Board’s decision to the contrary is clearly erroneous. Neither the Committee nor the Board addresses Cooke’s argument. We need not address Cooke’s argument. Section 9-8.10(b) provides: “The Board may levy a fine on any person who knowingly makes expenditures in violation of [section 9-8.10] ***.” 10 ILCS 5/9- 8.10(b) (West 2014). The Board, quoting section 9-8.10(b), asserts, “If a section 9-8.10 violation is found, section 9-8.10(b) states that the Board ‘may levy a fine on any person who knowingly’ made improper expenditures.” The Board’s assertion supposes the determination of whether a person knowingly made expenditures in violation of section 9-8.10 is a determination concerning the imposition of fines that is made only after a determination of whether a violation occurred. The Committee does not address the Board’s interpretation of section 9-8.10(b). Absent any argument to the contrary, we agree with the Board’s interpretation. Having now concluded the evidence established violations of section 9-8.10(a)(2) and (a)(9), the Board on remand can address whether the violations were knowingly committed in considering the matter of fines under section 9-8.10(b).

That could be Mautino’s out.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

10 Comments
  1. - Colin O'Scopy - Wednesday, Aug 21, 19 @ 12:12 pm:

    I think the state auditor should investigate. Uh, never mind.


  2. - My New Handle - Wednesday, Aug 21, 19 @ 12:13 pm:

    Good to know the Speaker supported Mautino for Auditor General. Madigan seems so hands on, except when he is hands off. Have the Dems, and Illinois, really been better off with him at the helm of the House and the DP. It would be a bumpy ride on the bus that keeps running over people thrown under it.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 21, 19 @ 12:25 pm:

    ===That could be Mautino’s out.===

    A legal opinion by an Appellate Court is a “good” out.

    The twittering of one @GrantWehrli… it will be delicious to its insanity, I’m hoping.


  4. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Aug 21, 19 @ 12:30 pm:

    Use to court order to Garnish his pay to pay the fine, just like any other working stiff would have to do.

    Great example for Illinois residents to follow from our Auditor General

    It’s ok to Ignore Court rulings because you are above the law and one of the Speaker’s favorites.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 21, 19 @ 12:37 pm:

    And right on time…

    @GrantWehrli - Our state fiscal watchdog can’t even keep his own books clean. His removal as Auditor General is long past due. He was never qualified and one can only wonder what he is hiding.

    If you aren’t checking out, and laughing at, @GrantWehrli, you’re probably doing twitter wrong, lol


  6. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 21, 19 @ 1:31 pm:

    What kind of a court is this that would allow a person to disband a committee while it is under investagation??? we need a total revamp of the rules for what is allowed as expense and how it must be reported. Maybe the should start with the IRS rules.


  7. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Aug 21, 19 @ 1:55 pm:

    ===What kind of a court is this that would allow a person to disband a committee while it is under investagation???===

    Never happened.

    The committee was dissolved (in December 2015) before the complaint was filed (in January or February 2016). As Auditor General, Mautino, by law, could not have a campaign committee after his December 2015 appointment nor could he reconstitute it.

    I do not think the complaint would have been filed while the committee existed because the committee would have had the records to either refute the claims or amend its filings to meet whatever standard was established.


  8. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Aug 21, 19 @ 2:00 pm:

    ==It’s ok to Ignore Court rulings==

    I agree that nobody should be able to ignore court rulings. I didn’t see your outrage however when your hero Governor did that very same thing. You really need to pick a lane and stay in it for once instead of swerving around whenever it suits your arguments.


  9. - Adam - Wednesday, Aug 21, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    The court found that Mautino committed clear violations. How does that give him an out?
    Does the plaintiff have to now prove they were “knowing” violations in order to seek a fine?


  10. - Justacitizen - Wednesday, Aug 21, 19 @ 10:50 pm:

    ===Two years after an initial elections complaint, an Appellate Court ruled Monday former state Rep. Frank Mautino’s campaign committee further violated election codes.===

    Wasn’t there a delay tactic Mautino was using to ensure he got vested in the general assembly retirement system?


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