Lake County Republicans concerned about auditor general’s alleged misspent campaign funds
Republican state legislative candidates seeking to represent Lake County would like to see an independent investigation into the allegations that newly appointed Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino misspent campaign funds.
The controversy began soon after the General Assembly last fall appointed State Rep. Mautino (D-Spring Valley), also the former deputy House majority leader, to the auditor general slot when his predecessor retired. Though no longer running for office, Mautino reportedly continued to raise and inappropriately spend campaign cash, according to watchdog groups the Edgar County Watchdogs and OpenTheBooks.com.
“This is a serious issue given the fact that the job of the auditor general is to monitor how public funds are spent,” Dan McConchie told the Lake County Gazette.
McConchie is a Republican candidate vying to represent the 26th State Senate District.
“If you can’t explain your own campaign expenditures in a way that satisfies the public, I think that raises questions as to whether or not you can effectively and efficiently oversee taxpayer money to ensure there is not waste and abuse in those areas as well,” McConchie said.
Rod Drobinski, who is a Republican running as the 62nd State House District candidate, agreed.
“As far as Mautino is concerned, I think it is a perfect example of what is wrong with Illinois politics,” Drobinski told the Lake County Gazette.
Drobinski pointed to the political nepotism that exists in the state capital.
“It is politically connected people downstate basically putting people in charge that aren’t worthy of trust," Drobinski said.
Drobinski said that incumbent Democrat State Rep. Sam Yingling, who did not respond to an interview request from the Lake County Gazette, is part of that establishment.
“My opponent voted for placing Mautino in that position,” Drobinski said.
Both candidates say Mautino’s recent campaign disclosures and subsequent review by the public watchdog groups show allegedly misappropriated reimbursements for items such as gas, vehicle repairs, meals and travel – all of which "raise a lot of questions," McConchie said.
“Some of the very concerning allegations here so far are [the approximately] $213,000 in gas and vehicle expenditures,” McConchie told the Lake County Gazette. “That seems to be an astronomically high number.”
Specifically, the Edgar County Watchdogs quantified $213,338.31 in campaign gas and vehicle repairs paid by Mautino’s political committee beginning in 2005 to Happy’s Super Service Station in his hometown of Spring Valley. The “gas” and “gas and vehicle repairs” averaged $20,000 per year over the course of almost 11 years, according to the accountability group.
This situation, McConchie said, should have been investigated before Mautino was even appointed to the auditor general position.
“This type of information was out there but it took independent watchdog people to comb through it and compile it,” McConchie said. “This is the type of thing that should have been vetted prior to him ever taking a position in the first place and the fact that it didn’t occur is very concerning. What other types of appointments are happening out there without the proper background checks?”
If elected, Drobinski said he would call for an independent investigation “because we just don’t have enough independence down in Springfield.”
McConchie, currently vice president of government affairs for Americans United for Life, said that at the least, Mautino should “come clean in regards to what these expenditures are about and provide a good record for them.”
And if the new auditor general can’t do that, McConchie said, then “he should step down and allow someone else who doesn’t have this kind of issue overshadowing them to step into that role instead.”
McConchie added that the public must be confident that the auditor general not only has the ability to handle the job, but is fairly and ethically looking out for their money.
To see a list of Mautino's expenditures, go to: http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Expenditure-List-Printable-TOTAL.pdf.