‘The CPA For Pa.’ Maher Is Right Man For Auditor General

Harrisburg Patriot-News

The Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Office is the fiscal watchdog. You want someone heading this office who asks tough questions and isn’t intimidated by anyone. Under current Auditor General Jack Wagner, the office has gone after everything from school districts’ excessive use of financial swaps and welfare department fraud to the need for a state transportation plan. Wagner has come out swinging at fellow Democrat Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s.

The two men running to succeed Wagner, Republican John Maher and Democrat Eugene DePasquale, are likely to be good watchdogs as well. They are state representatives with reputations for stirring the pot and standing up for what they believe in, even when it goes against the party line.

They are advocates for government transparency. Maher of Allegheny County helped author the landmark Right to Know Law, and he and DePasquale of York County are among the few lawmakers to post their office expenses online.

DePasquale also has been a leader in using social media to inform the public. But on Election Day, voters can only pick one man. The Patriot-News endorses John Maher for auditor general. Maher’s campaign slogan is “The CPA for Pa.” It’s a reference to the fact that he’s a certified public accountant with experience in auditing and government accounting from his work in the private sector.

That kind of auditing background has long been missing from this state office and would be a welcome change. Even though the auditor general doesn’t do much of the grunt work himself, he still directs the team and decides which pro-jects to pursue. Maher also brings solid ideas for reform.

He believes the school district audits need a complete overhaul and that the Department of Environmental Protection’s oversight of Marcellus Shale deserves a look. The pension crisis also is on his mind, especially how much the funds are paying for their various advisers and fund managers.

While Maher has a few blemishes on his record — notably his vote for the notorious 2005 pay raise — The Patriot-News is impressed that he was awarded the “Champion of Good Government” award from Common Cause, a non-profit that advocates for government transparency.

Maher says he doesn’t tow the party line and describes himself as a “nail in the side” of former Republican House Speaker John Perzel (who is now in jail). The Patriot-News would like to see Maher be a “nail in the side” of many areas of state government as auditor general.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2012/10/the_cpa_for_pa_maher_is_right_man_for_auditor_general.html