House Candidate Responds to Critics of Coal Company Donations

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Jared Roberts

WSIL -- A local legislative candidate is fighting back against ethics questions.

Democrat Tony Mayville is running for state representative in the 115th district. He'll face Bill Kilquist in the March primary.
 
Mayville's been put on unpaid leave from his job with the Department of Natural Resources after questions about campaign donations from coal companies.
 
Mayville says when he first asked IDNR for permission to join the race, there were talks about taking a leave.
 
Environmental groups call the donations worrisome for IDNR because the agency regulates the industry. 
 
However, Mayville believes the recent criticism is politically motivated.
 
"I've always turned in the paper work," said Mayville. "The documentation has always been there. I never felt like I did anything wrong."
 
Tony Mayville spent 28 years in coal mines. At a fundraiser in 2013, he says a former colleague donated $2000 from Foresight Energy to the Washington County Democrats. That money instead ended up in Mayville's campaign account.
 
"I've never talked to anybody at Foresight Energy other than the gentleman I'm talking about," said Mayville. "And he worked at Zeigler Coal Company when I worked at Zeigler Coal Company."
 
Mayville says the switch up between accounts was a simple accident. That's why the funds were moved back.
 
He's also heard a public records request about the check came from Mike Madigan's office. He says that office is backing his opponent. 
 
"I feel like this is politically motivated," said Mayville. "Speaker Madigan wants to own this seat down here."
     
Mayville oversees mine safety in Illinois. Last year, he asked for permission to run for office. If he was sworn in, he promised to resign. 
 
IDNR's response included ethics rules and a suggestion that a leave of absence be considered. 
 
Mayville says he planned to take time in March. After news of the coal company check, IDNR put him on leave on February 10.
 
"The paperwork was filled out for February 8 to March 20," said Mayville. 
 
Writer and environmentalist, Will Reynolds, is relieved Mayville isn't on the job. Reynolds pointed out the campaign funds in an article for the Huffington Post.
 
"People are responding that they're not surprised," said Mayville. "They're not surprised that DNR is close with the industries that they regulate."
 
Reynolds says it's IDNR's role to protect miners and the environment, not to be friendly with the companies.
 
"I hope we get some reform in the agency," said Reynolds. 
 
IDNR released this statement about the issue:
 
"The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has zero tolerance for misconduct. After learning that Mr. Mayville may have violated agency policy, we immediately launched an investigation. When Director Marc Miller became aware of the individual's actions, he initiated the disciplinary process (which is required for employees under the Personnel Code). Mr. Mayville is on unpaid leave of absence. Additionally the matter has been referred to the Office of the Executive Inspector General.  When Mr. Mayville first notified DNR of his intention to run for elected office in March 2013, Director Miller advised him to avoid any conflicts of interest or even the appearance of conflicts of interest. In addition, Miller suggested he consider taking an unpaid leave of absence." 
 
Mayville was first appointed to a position with IDNR back in 2003.
 
He believes his name will be cleared in the investigation and that he will to go back to work after March 20th. 
 
"I've even made a request from the United States Office of Special Counsel out in Washington D.C.," said Mayville. "I want them to look into it."
 
You can search campaign donations to Illinois candidates on the State Board of Elections website here. 
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