Maybe it was not a good idea to choose a “totally unqualified” state auditor.
Matt Dunlap is no longer an auditor. He never should have been.
We have nothing against the former Secretary of State for Maine, who we found open, approachable and detail-oriented in his previous role. But we subscribe to the idea that public officials should be qualified for the functions they perform.
In some cases, “qualified” can be difficult to define. Different people enjoy different experiences in choosing who to vote for, for example.
In other cases, however, the qualifications required for a position are crystal clear. As for the role of the auditor of the State of Maine.
Maine law clearly states: “The state auditor must be a certified public accountant or university graduate with at least 6 years of experience as a professional accountant or auditor, including at least 5 years of experience in auditing, of which at least 4 years must have occupied a supervisory position.
Dunlap, a Democrat, failed to meet those demands when the Democratic-controlled legislature selected him for the job in December. He was, in his own words at the time, “totally unqualified” for the job.
State law now also allows cases where the auditor is not qualified and gives them nine months to take the exams necessary to become a certified public accountant, certified information systems auditor or auditor. internal certified. As Dunlap explained in a recent letter to Maine Senate Speaker Troy Jackson, also a Democrat, Dunlap has failed to achieve internal auditor certification in those nine months.
In the letter, Dunlap described his efforts to get tutor help and take a course in financial accounting, difficulty planning some of his tests and how he passed one of those tests but failed two. others despite being “excruciatingly close” to success.
“I am presenting this account to you to explain my situation and not find excuses for him,” Dunlap said in the letter, noting that Deputy State Auditor Melissa Perkins will be in charge of the office in the interim. “While I can convey a great deal about what I have learned about the maturing of the role of the internal auditor over the past thirty years and the vertical effort required to meet the requirements of the law, these do not are only superficial to the situation; I knew the rules and did my best to meet those standards. ”
In keeping with our past experience with him, Dunlap’s letter was detailed and thorough. We want the legislature to have the same attention to detail when selecting its auditor. The fact that he was not qualified for the job was not a detail. That should have been reason enough at the time to select someone already qualified for the role.
Going forward, the Maine Senate will need to confirm a new auditor. When asked if Jackson would consider renaming Dunlap if he became qualified, Jackson spokeswoman Christine Kirby said the Senate Speaker “is not ruling anything out.”
As a general rule, when making a decision like this, members of the legislature should exclude people who are literally unqualified. And while we’re on the subject, we’ll emphasize once again that the legislature shouldn’t be filling these positions in the first place.
Along with the positions of attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer, the auditor is one of four positions currently chosen by the legislature that should instead be chosen directly by voters. This situation involving Dunlap is just one example of how the current system often leads ruling party political insiders to fill these roles. Having the public elect these officers could bring more transparency and accountability to the process.
Again, we have nothing against Matt Dunlap. But we have something against a system that often prioritizes political relations over qualifications.