CHICAGO – Illinois' auditor general is in the second year of undergoing scrutiny for the curious ways he spent his own campaign finances while serving as an Illinois state lawmaker. And for the second year, he's refusing to answer questions.
At a hearing in Chicago Thursday before the State Board of Elections, Auditor General Frank Mautino continued his silence. State Representatives Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) and Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) attended the hearing, and afterwards, stressed that Mautino’s decision to “plead the Fifth Amendment” to again avoid providing answers must result in his removal from office.
“Members of the General Assembly gave Auditor General Mautino five chances last year to provide us answers to questions surrounding the state and federal investigations into his campaign finances. He refused. The State Board of Elections gave him two deadlines to produce the required information. He refused. Today, he pleaded the Fifth Amendment, again refusing to answer questions,” Rep. Wehrli said. “We cannot have someone serving as the taxpayers’ top financial watchdog who refuses over and over again to answer questions about serious, possibly criminal problems with his own finances. Auditor General Mautino must be removed from office.”
Last summer, 21 state lawmakers – including one Democrat – called on Mautino to step aside during a federal probe into his campaign finance spending. Mautino ignored their plea.
“Auditor General Mautino has had more than a year to answer questions related to the allegations against him, yet today he again refused to come clean. It is time for him to do the right thing for the people of Illinois and resign. If he won’t, then the General Assembly must act to remove him from office. We cannot afford to have the state’s top auditor continue in office under the cloud of state and federal investigations into his misconduct,” Rep. Ives said.
During that year of stalling, the auditor general's pension will have been hiked $59,000 annually, Ives revealed last year.
Representatives Wehrli is sponsoring House Joint Resolution 9 to remove Frank Mautino from the office of Auditor General. The resolution will require a three-fifths majority vote in both chambers of the General Assembly for approval. A similar proposal calling for Mautino to step down by former State Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) saw no progress in the Illinois House last year.
“Unethical behavior is not a partisan issue. All elected officials in Illinois must be held to the highest standard regardless of party. If he won’t do the honorable thing and resign, then Auditor General Mautino must be removed. I will be pushing for a hearing on HJR9 when we return to Springfield next week,” Wehrli said.