Q&A: Mautino set to become third Illinois auditor general

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Frank Mautino knows a thing or two about audits. The state representative from Spring Valley, chosen last week to become the third auditor general in Illinois history, estimates he's read 2,000 of them, detailing waste, mismanagement, and sloppiness, in 18 years as a member of the Audit Commission that reviews those checks of government operations and recommends changes.

The Legislature appointed him for a 10-year term to replace William Holland, who served 23 years. Like Holland, Mautino is a Democrat - deputy majority leader to House Speaker Michael Madigan. Mautino insists he'll be impartial as head of the office that issues about 150 audits a year, with regular reviews of state agencies and their financial records, compliance with state and federal laws, and performance of programs.

Mautino discussed the appointment last week with The Associated Press. Here are edited excerpts:

Q: How would you describe the job of auditor general?

A: It is the only truly independent set of eyes on state government spending, answers only to the taxpayers, and brings problems that have been found through the process of audit back to the General Assembly which has been charged with making the policies to fix it. ... The 10-year term allows you to actually be independent; you're going to be there beyond a single administration.


Q: Why did you want this job?

A: My interest has always been transparency, finance and intergovernmental workings. ... I've always believed that if you wanted to understand how government works together, you had to sit on two committees. One is the Revenue Committee, and the other is the Audit Commission. You see where the money comes from and how it ultimately gets spent.


Q: Holland was known as low-key, no-nonsense. He had one news conference in 23 years - in 2005 when former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's Department of Central Management Services attacked his credibility in denouncing an audit. What made him successful?

A: Holland was a role model. ... He handled uncomfortable situations, difficult situations, rough audits, with grace under pressure. The only time I can actually recall him in anger was the CMS audit and at that time, he was correct in what he did, and how professionally he answered a team of lawyers, with just he and (legal counsel) Rebecca Patton defending on the other side, and they won. Gotta be admired.


Q: You are part of the House Democratic leadership. Holland was a Democrat but built a reputation as unbiased. How do you do that?

A: The bills that I've run and the complex negotiations that I've done have always had geographic and partisan balance and I've found I got a better work product out of that. ... That's been one of my strengths that throughout the years I've taken pride in, that I can bring those groups together and keep it in a nonpartisan fashion.


Contact Political Writer John O'Connor at .

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