Auditor general candidate highlights auditing background

by The Times-Tribune
Auditor general

candidate boasts CPA experience

If you learn anything after meeting Republican auditor general candidate John Maher, it's that he's a certified public accountant.

Mr. Maher pounded that point home before the Times-Tribune editorial board on Monday. He has also made it a cornerstone of this campaign for the seat being vacated by Democrat Jack Wagner, who cannot run again because of term limits.

He faces Democrat Eugene DePasquale, a state representative from York.

If elected, Mr. Maher, a state representative from suburban Pittsburgh, said he would be the first auditor general with an auditing background.

"Debits and credits should not be partisan," he said.

Mr. Maher said he hopes to expand the role of the auditor general beyond ensuring that state funds are properly spent. He wants the department to offer municipalities and school districts commentary and suggestions on their financial operations, focusing on the best practices. He said he hopes to make audit reports more meaningful for local officials and the public.

"This is a watchdog job, but it is also a wisdom job," he said. "There are best practices out there, and we should be sharing better ways to do things."

Mr. Maher did not set out to be a politician. He worked for Ernst & Young and later opened his own accounting firm in suburban Pittsburgh. At the urging of friends and civic leaders, he ran for the state House seat vacated by the death of Rep. Al Pettit in 1997.

As a legislator, he said he wanted to focus on laws that would result in a lasting change. Mr. Maher wrote changes to the state Open Records Law that expanded and improved public access to government records. He toughened penalties for CPAs who file deceptive reports and penned the state's first lobbying law.

"The necessary work of government often goes untended," he said. "I want to work for changes that have an enduring benefit."

Contact the writer: dfalchek@ timesshamrock.comRepublican auditor general candidate John Maher talks with the Times-Tribune editorial board Monday in The Scranton Times Building in Scranton.


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