What do you do with a top ranking ethics officer who is himself facing serious questions of unethical behavior?
First, you ask for answers. In the case of the campaign finance and accounting questions surrounding Illinois’ new Auditor General Frank Mautino, lawmakers from the House and Senate have asked for answers time and time again over the past four months. Now, we’re out of patience.
Let me start by stating that Auditor General Mautino was a much-respected legislator when he served in the House, so most of us who have worked with him were very troubled when, shortly after his appointment as Auditor General, questions surfaced surrounding unusual campaign spending and accounting practices dating back to his time in the House. In his new role as Auditor General, Frank Mautino is now the state’s chief ethics and accounting watchdog, charged with safeguarding taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse, so it’s critical for the integrity of his office that he address the personal financial questions immediately.
I along with other lawmakers began in February formally requesting that he do just that. Our first letter to Auditor General Mautino was sent on February 1. He requested a bit more time to which we willingly agreed. At the end of February we sent a second letter. He replied that we could expect answers within weeks, but still no answers were forthcoming. On May 5, three months after our initial letter, more than 20 lawmakers sent Auditor General Mautino a third letter demanding immediate answers.
He replied that the matter would be handled by the State Board of Elections. I attended the May 16 State Board of Elections Hearing in Springfield at which the Board gave Auditor General Mautino until July 1 to reply to their specific inquiries.
So the questions continue to fester into the summer because the Auditor General simply refuses to address them. If there truly is nothing improper as he asserts (and I sincerely hope), why won’t he simply answer the questions and put the issue behind him?
Unethical behavior is not a partisan issue. All elected officials in Illinois must be held to the highest standard regardless of party. This is also not just a State Board of Elections matter. These are serious ethical and possibly criminal questions that go to the very core of the current Auditor General’s fitness and ability to do his job safeguarding taxpayer dollars.
Auditor General Mautino needs to recognize that he answers to the General Assembly and the taxpayers we represent; and we are out of patience.