Springfield, IL. (ECWd) -
Auditor General Frank Mautino has been avoiding questions in reference to his campaign expenditures for his personal vehicles, and those of a campaign worker, as well as clear irregularities in payments to Spring Valley City Bank. We first reported on those matters January 21st, 2016, and to date Mautino has avoided any specific explanations. (Our coverage of Mautino to date found here)
As we continued to investigate, we found once again another top figure in our state government had violated the Freedom of Information Act and potentially violated the Local Records Act by concealing certain records from our requests. If such concealment is validated by law enforcement he could face felony criminal charges, however, that is unlikely considering Lisa Madigan, our State's Attorney General would be the one responsible for bringing such charges.
February 9th, 2016, I filed this FOIA request to the office of Auditor General. It was a simple request that we had reason to believe would result in concealment of certain records.
- Copy of any communication either electronic or paper received by the Office of Auditor General and Frank Mautino seeking a response or answers to questions about Frank Mautino’s campaign records, by any person, group of people, and/or any legislatures, either individually or as a group in the last 30 days.
- Copy of any response provided by Frank Mautino to the above referenced requests.
The request should have produced requests in a date range of January 11th through February 9th, 2016 and all responses to those inquiries seeking a response from the Auditor General.
The FOIA response from the top Auditor in the state did not include two very specific communications that clearly fell into the criteria established in the FOIA request. The question now is why were these 2 applicable documents concealed from my FOIA request?
- E-mail communication from Frank Mautino Auditor General State issued e-mail account to Representative Grant Wehrli dated February 9, 2016. "He is asking for more time and that is something that I think is reasonable and agreeable. However, I am not inclined to support an open ended request such as he submitted." (Actual e-mail communication from Auditor General)
- Letter from Frank Mautino sent using his Auditor General State issued e-mail account and attached to the e-mail referenced in #3. (Actual Mautino signed letter here)
As you can see, the e-mail communications and the attached letter should have been produced based on the criteria established. In the event the Auditor General tries to take the path that those communications were to him personally for his campaign, then all we have to do is look at the State issued e-mail account being used in these communications. Taking such a stance would indicate he is using his State issued email account for personal campaign matters, which may well be a whole other issue.
A second FOIA request on February 14, 2016, resulted in the same pattern of behavior of records concealment by our Auditor General. It was basically a replica of the first FOIA with one minor change, the timeline, so that I could capture communications after my first FOIA. I wanted the communications received and responsed to between February 10th, 2016 and February 15th, 2016, beginning and ending date inclusive. (Actual FOIA found here)
Another FOIA response with the following responsive documents concealed from me.
- February 11th, 2016 e-mail communication from Representative Grant Wehrli to Auditor General Frank Mautino's state issued e-mail account. (Actual e-mail here)
- The attached letter addressed to Frank Mautino as referenced in the e-mail outlined in item #1. (Actual letter attached to e-mail here)
It is clear that a total of four public records were concealed in my FOIA request. Based on the response from the Auditor General in his letter attached in both responses, none of the above-identified documents are referenced as being denied or redacted.
It is clear the records were concealed without lawful authority. Now the question is, was the concealment of these communications done with an intent to defraud? Blacks Law dictionary defines fraud: "Fraud consist of some deceitful practice or willful device, resort to with intent to deprive another of his right."
Clearly I had a right to the public records and my rights were deprived through the actions of the public office of the Auditor General.
Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205/4) (from Ch. 116, par. 43.104)
Sec. 4. (a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this Section, all public records made or received by, or under the authority of, or coming into the custody, control or possession of any officer or agency shall not be mutilated, destroyed, transferred, removed or otherwise damaged or disposed of, in whole or in part, except as provided by law. Any person who knowingly, without lawful authority and with the intent to defraud any party, public officer, or entity, alters, destroys, defaces, removes, or conceals any public record commits a Class 4 felony.
Additional FOIA violations include the fact the Auditor General failed to provide the required instructions of my rights to have their response reviewed by the Attorney General and my right to judicial review under section 11 of the FOI Act. Although the required information was found in a letter provided at a later date, it was not provided at the close of my FOIA as required. Both closing letters can be found here and here, of which both were provided with my second FOIA responsive documents.
Record concealment is a violation of law and all indications are he broke the law!
There is no justification for the Auditor General to conceal public records in his possession. If we can't trust our Auditor General to even comply with simple FOIA requests then most would agree it is time for him to do the right thing and resign.