Let Objectivity-Obsessed CPAs Oversee Our Elections

By Mandel, Peter | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 26, 2018 | Go to article overview

Let Objectivity-Obsessed CPAs Oversee Our Elections


Mandel, Peter, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


"You've got to love it," said a cable news analyst I flipped on the other day. It could have been almost any news show. Any political angle. Any evening.

"The Virginia state house race ends in a lottery drawing and, almost simultaneously, President Trump disbands his election integrity commission!" The analyst added this: "Trust in government and in our elections, themselves, is at an all-time low."

If I had been alone I would have turned this off. But I was not in charge. My CPA wife held up her hand. Just as I feared, she was waving a crumpled printout that lives under our coffee table these days.

It isn't a copy of the Constitution, though it looks a bit like that from a distance. It is some synopsis she's unearthed of the American Institute of CPAs' Code of Professional Conduct.

I knew what was coming.

Another mini-lecture on the ironclad ethical standards that even the humblest accountant is expected to uphold. Another capsule rant on the disclosure and compliance expectations of CPAs at the "Big Four" and other accounting firms. Kathy, who now runs a small practice with her partner, worked for many years as a tax manager at KPMG.

While some may be yawning, or mildly troubled, by a president who doesn't disclose his tax returns or Senate committees that do their work behind closed doors, Kathy and her fellow objectivity-obsessed CPAs are fuming.

Kathy's bursts of occupational pride started me thinking. Shouldn't our government officials be held to, at the very least, the same behavioral benchmarks as members of my wife's workaday, white-collar profession?

And what about our elections themselves fraught these days with accusations of gerrymandered districts, limited access to polls, and voter fraud. Could CPAs, with their professional pledges of objectivity and non-partisanship, be of any help here?

After analyzing the matter during a commercial, I am confident they could. Here are some of my proposals:

* Appoint top accounting firms to monitor the American election process. If the Oscar voting is important enough to be chaperoned by the firm of Price Waterhouse, isn't it time the federal government took note and held our national elections to the same unimpeachable standard? Okay, so there was some minor confusion at the Oscars last year. But compared with electoral flubs like hanging and dimpled chads, it's hardly worth mentioning. …

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