A surprisingly contentious legal debate has emerged in this year’s state auditor race, a typically mundane political contest.
At issue is whether the auditor, responsible for reviewing government finances, must be a certified public accountant. Incumbent Republican Mary Mosiman, who is a CPA, says the ramifications of installing a non-CPA as state auditor are unclear, but suggests the office could lose status as an accounting firm, leading to additional expenses for the state. Democratic challenger Rob Sand says his not being a CPA would not be a significant financial or legal burden.
We endorse Mosiman, because her experience in the core responsibilities of the office is unmatched in this election. Mosiman first was appointed as auditor in 2013 by former Gov. Terry Branstad, and she won election in 2014, the first Iowa woman to do so.
She has worked in the private sector as an accountant, and she previously served as the Story County auditor.
Fred Perryman, the Libertarian Party candidate, did not respond to The Gazette’s request for a meeting.
To support their arguments about CPA status, Mosiman and Sand have lined up credible sources, including accountants and lawyers. Independent fact-checkers researching the issue have not come to clear conclusions.
What is clear is Sand is putting forth a vision for the auditor’s office far different from what has been in place in modern Iowa history. He’s calling for more aggressive investigatory activities, which may be better suited for the attorney general’s office, where Sand was previously employed. Mosiman says that would be redundant and inefficient, since her office already works with other state law enforcement officials.
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Mosiman counts among her accomplishments more than 1,000 completed reports during one full term in office, uncovering around $14 million in waste, fraud and abuse. Given her success, we see no compelling reason to change leadership.
Even if Sand is correct about the CPA requirement, we disagree with his claim that not being a CPA somehow is one of his strongest qualities as a candidate. Sand has run an honest and impassioned campaign, and we have no doubt he will carry on an important career in public service, but we don’t think state auditor is the right fit.
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