A Maine Event

BY CHERYL ROSEN

The election of Neria Douglass, an attorney with no accounting background, as Maines state auditor has some local residentsand especially Rep. Darren Hall, CPAup in arms. Im absolutely appalled she did not have the initials CPA after her name, Congressman Hall said in an impromptu but impassioned speech on the floor of the Maine House of Representatives. Its an insult to our profession and an insult to me.

Even as Douglass explained that the state auditor job (which carries a $75,000 annual salary) is more about management than accounting, and that her qualified staff of CPAs and finance professionals will handle any actual audit work, she told the JofA she has been hitting the accounting books. Meanwhile, a bill requiring that all future state auditors be CPAs passed Maines House of Representatives but stalled in its Senate.

Meanwhile, Hall said being a CPA made his 2004 election possible, since it had allowed him all kinds of free time from April 16 to June to work every day on my campaign. Despite having no background in politics, he won by a landslide, thanks to his tax practices supportive clients and his promise not to vote for one single tax increase. Juggling the two jobs during tax season was extremely difficult, though, he acknowledged; hed often shuttle home from Augusta at night, do a couple of tax returns and rush right back for an early morning session.

Hall obviously is still smarting over Douglass and other lawyers encroaching on CPA territory. Theres nothing else we can do for now, he concedes. But Ill resubmit the bill next termalong with one that says you shouldnt have to be an attorney to be Maines Attorney General.

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