* 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.