Maher Makes His Pitch For Auditor General

Bruce Siwy
Somerset Daily American

State Rep. John Maher believes he has a proven record of “turning the lights on” government affairs.

The District 40 representative — who made a campaign stop in Somerset on Thursday with local state Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar — is heralding his experience as an entrepreneur and certified public accountant as his chief credentials heading into the GOP primary for auditor general.

“I’m an auditor running to be an auditor,” Maher said, poking fun at his rivals, who are not CPAs. He faces Republican Frank Pinto, of Dauphin County, in the primary. State Rep. Eugene DePasquale is unopposed in the Democratic race.

The winner of the general election will replace Auditor General Jack Wagner, who has reached his term limit.

Since winning a special election for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1997, Maher has endorsed several pieces of transparency-themed legislation. He said he co-sponsored both the state’s first open records law and first anti-lobbying bill.

“People sort of liked the fact that it was hard for newspapers to get information,” the Upper St. Clair resident told the Daily American during a one-on-one interview.

His goal if elected, he said, is to uncover the waste, fraud and corruption he believes was rampant under the previous administration in Harrisburg. He cited Pennsylvania’s multibillion-dollar debt as evidence.

“It’s clear to me that the state is in fiscal trouble. And it’s clear to me that the state deserves an auditor as auditor general,” he said.

Maher’s journey into this field began during high school in Carlisle. He went on to earn a degree at Duke University in North Carolina, later studying on scholarship at Oxford University and on a fellowship at the Australian School of Management in Sydney, Australia.

He said he returned to Pennsylvania and became a CPA in 1980, working for several years with a large firm before starting his own practice with Maher Duessel, a company he “built from scratch.”

“I do love auditing,” he said. “I know I’m going to do some things that people have never seen before. And things will change.”

According to Maher, Pennsylvania should create a comprehensive Marcellus Shale gas well database for agencies to share and update the accounting systems for the departments of Treasury and Revenue.

He also pledged to audit the Horse Race Development Fund, which receives $5 million per week from slots and gambling revenue. Maher said this money is distributed to various equestrian-based nonprofit groups without accountability.

“I’m all for advancing agriculture, but I don’t see how the dots are connecting here,” he added. “So it needs scrutiny.”

Maher — who is chairman of the state agriculture committee — is endorsed by the Republican Party. He is 57 years old.

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