Attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center have volunteered to represent David Cooke, a Central Illinois man who has accused Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino of violating Illinois campaign disclosure laws while he was a state representative.
In February, Cooke filed a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections alleging that Mautino’s campaign committee violated the Illinois Campaign Disclosure Act. Specifically, Cooke alleges that payments totaling more than $200,000 made over a 10-year period by the campaign committee to Happy’s Super Service, a service station in Spring Valley, Ill., cannot reasonably be legitimate payments for fuel and vehicle repairs. Cooke also challenged thousands of dollars of inexplicable expenditures the committee made directly to Spring Valley City Bank.
Cooke, a retired nuclear power plant operator, learned about the expenses through media reports. Cooke raised the issue to state officials after finding out they would not investigate the matter unless a formal complaint was filed. It became necessary for Cooke to secure legal representation after he was told that in order for this matter to proceed, Cooke would need to act as “prosecutor” in the case.
“It is disturbing that the auditor general – the state official charged with ensuring that the state spends tax dollars legally – appears to have spent his own campaign funds illegally,” said Jacob Huebert, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, which has agreed to represent Cooke pro bono. “We will conduct a thorough investigation to make sure that Frank Mautino is held accountable.”
Mautino became auditor general on Jan. 1 after he was appointed to the 10-year post by the Illinois General Assembly. Mautino previously was a state legislator for 24 years.
After Cooke filed his complaint, Mautino sought to have the case dismissed, but state elections officials denied Mautino’s request. Instead, they ordered Mautino to provide by July 1 a detailed breakdown of his spending at Happy’s Super Service and Spring Valley City Bank. Mautino failed to produce the records, so the board gave him an extension to July 25. Mautino still has not produced these records. Mautino has also sought to stay (indefinitely delay) the state elections investigation while he is under federal investigation.
Cooke and attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center appeared before a hearing officer from the Illinois State Board of Elections today and filed requests for documents and information from Mautino’s campaign committee, along with subpoenas for Mautino, his former campaign treasurers and the businesses that received questionable payments from Mautino’s campaign committee. Mautino’s attorney stated that he intends to appeal the board’s denial of a stay to the Illinois Appellate Court, which could delay the board’s consideration of the case for months.