State Senate candidate Mel Thillens calls for investigation of Auditor General Frank Mautino
State Senate GOP candidate Mel Thillens wants answers and is calling for an investigation of Auditor General Frank Mautino, whose campaign finance records have raised ethical questions regarding extravagant spending during his tenure as state representative.
“I am calling for an independent investigation of Auditor General Frank Mautino,” Thillens said in a press release. “The public deserves an explanation. It's time we demand answers and accountability from our public officials. It's time we had a government we can be proud of.”
The state conducted a nationwide search to replace former Auditor General William Holland, who retired in December after 23 years of service. Fourteen candidates applied for the position.
Mautino, a Democrat, had served as state representative for 24 years, including 15 years as a co-chairman of the Legislative Audit Commission, when a legislative panel recommended him to oversee how tax dollars are spent as auditor general. The Legislative Audit Committee voted 11-1 in favor of Mautino, the former co-chair of the panel.
Legislators in both parties supported Mautino - the Senate approved his nomination by a 55-0 vote and the House approved 102-10. He began serving as auditor general Jan.1.
Mautino was chosen over three other finalists: Mary Modelski, a division chief for internal audit for Alameda County, California; state Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), a chief negotiator on pension issues; and Larry Sanders, general counsel for the Rend Lake Conservancy District.
Thillins, a Republican candidate in Senate District 28, criticized politicians, namely State Sen. Laura Murphy, for appointing Mautino to his new position and overlooking other candidates.
“Laura Murphy chose to side with the Springfield status quo by appointing a political insider rather than using qualifications to appoint the best person to provide oversight as Illinois’ auditor general," Thillins said.
Murphy is a Democratic member of the Illinois Senate representing the 28th District since last October. She previously served as a member of the Des Plaines City Council.
Thillins isn’t the only one seeking answers. The Illinois State Board of Elections and the Edgar County Watchdogs have launched investigations into Mautino's campaign finance records, which showed extravagant spending of more than $200,000 on gas and vehicle repairs over an 11-year span to Happy’s Super Service in Spring Valley, which is Mautino’s hometown. The records also show irregularities in payments to Spring Valley City Bank.
Other questionable expenses in Mautino’s reporting include an additional $30,000 in state travel reimbursements for legislative duties and service on audit commissions since 2005 – paid for with taxpayers' money; $271,417 in state agency payments to family-owned Mautino Distribution Company since 2005, with increased annual payments occurring after Mautino’s promotion into House Speaker Michael Madigan’s House Majority leadership team in 2009; $33,000 paid to his wife’s family’s pizza restaurant since 1999; and $273,973 paid to a local bank from his campaign fund.
In addition, Mautino's campaign treasurer, Patty Maunu, received 16 payments totaling $23,800 reportedly for meeting expenses since 2013 - although no details were provided on the spending, NBC Chicago reported.
Mautino’s reporting also suggested that no single vendor received more than $150. An amount more than $150 to an individual or entity in a quarterly reporting period would require disclosure of the individual's or entity's name and address.
Mautino has said very little about the brewing controversy surrounding his campaign spending. During a news interview last month, Mautino said he is reviewing his campaign expenditures.
"What I've done is, I am going through many of the receipts that were held by my campaign committee," Mautino said. "I've got some people helping me organize it so that I can make a statement that's full and accurate, and reflects the spending in the areas of my campaign."
The state’s auditor general reviews the financial records of state agencies and their compliance with the law. The auditor general is selected by the General Assembly every 10 years.
Organizations in this Story
740 East Ash Street
Springfield, IL - 62703
500 North Richards Street
Spring Valley, IL - 61362
Park Ridge, IL