Frank Mautino seldom had much to say about the years-long flap over his campaign spending, but Illinois’ auditor general broke his silence to say he’s glad it’s over.
Tuesday, the Illinois State Board of Elections voted to dismiss the case, finding the former Democratic state representative of Spring Valley did not “knowingly” violate campaign finance law when his committee’s account was used to purchase gasoline and repairs on personal vehicles instead of paying mileage reimbursements. The decision first was reported by Hannah Meisel of NPR.
“I am pleased with the outcome,” Mautino said in a statement, “and the board’s unanimous bipartisan decision that the campaign committee did not knowingly violate the law, and the Supreme Court’s unanimous finding in my favor.”
David Cooke, the former Streator resident who challenged Mautino’s campaign spending in 2016, denounced the decision in a Wednesday post on his Facebook page.
“Another corrupt decision by the Board of Elections as they ignored the law and ruled against whether Mautino ‘knowingly’ violated the law,” Cooke wrote.
Cook wrote ignorance of the law is no excuse and there was evidence Mautino knew. Cook further argued Mautino voted for the actual law in question while he served in the Illinois House of Representatives.
“But the Board actually stated they did not think he had knowledge of the specific law, not the legal requirement of only his awareness of the actions, so they voted the motion down,” Cooke wrote. “Thus they changed the law at the meeting to vindicate criminal actions by Mautino.”
Tuesday’s ruling appears to end an inquiry into reports Mautino’s campaign spent more than $225,000 on gas and repairs during a roughly 16-year period. Cooke filed his complaint in early 2016, just weeks after Mautino relinquished his House seat to become auditor general in December 2015. Mautino’s former state representative district included La Salle, Bureau, Putnam and Livingston counties.
Cooke’s complaint resulted in a $5,000 fine (never paid) leveled against Mautino’s disbanded committee for failing to produce records. Cooke persisted and the matter returned to the Illinois State Board of Elections, where the board issued split rulings, and in court, ending in a mixed May ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court.