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Auditor candidate lacks CPA degree

February 18, 1998
By: Emily Goodin
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The latest candidate to announce for State Auditor said her campaign would be endorsed by the man who said the office should be held by a person with a qualification she lacks -- a CPA.

Kansas City Democrat George Lehr, now deceased, defeated incumbent John Ashcroft for the state auditor's position in 1974 with the campaign theme that the State Auditor should be a certified public accountant.

Every auditor since then has been a CPA - two Democrats and two Republicans, including the incumbent Republican Margaret Kelly.

But Democrat Claire McCaskill said Wednesday she thought if Lehr were here today he would support her position.

"I think George Lehr was a leader first and a CPA second," McCaskill, Jackson County Prosecutor, said.

Fellow Democrat St. Louis Alderman Steve Conway said, however, that having a CPA degree will give him an advantage in the primary.

"For 25 years every state auditor has been a certified public accountant," Conway said.

The leading Republican candidate, Deputy State Auditor Charles Pierce, also is a CPA.

"Voters are very much sold on the idea that it needs to be a CPA to be state auditor," Pierce said.

McCaskill, however, claims that "You do not need initials behind your name, no matter what those initials may be, to be a leader."

Both Conway and the Republicans are emphasizing the importance of a CPA degree.

"We don't even know if she can balance her checkbook," Republican Party spokesman Daryl Duwe said of McCaskill. "If she really wants to be auditor, she should pass the CPA exam."

But McCaskill said leadership is the most important quality in an office-holder.

"I am by far the most qualified candidate that has sought the office in years," she said.

Republican and CPA Margaret Kelly, the current state auditor, has held the position for 13 years and has announced she will not seek re-election.

If the Democrats take the state auditor's office that would put the party in control of every state-wide office and the general assembly.

Filing for state auditor begins next week and lasts a month. The primary will be in August and the general election in November.