When former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap was sworn in as the state auditor on January 4, he did not possess the qualifications to hold office as outlined by Maine law.
According to Title 5, §242 of the Maine Revised Statutes, the state auditor must be either a certified public accountant (CPA) or a college graduate with no less than six years of experience as a professional accountant or auditor. Dunlap has neither of those credentials.
However, Maine law allows a period of nine months after a state auditor is sworn in to earn credentials as either a CPA, certified information systems auditor or certified internal auditor. Dunlap, who was elected to the position on December 2, 2020, has until early October to meet the requirement.
Gaining certification as a CPA requires not only passing a test but earning a bachelor’s degree within 120 days of doing so. Gaining certification as an internal auditor, however, is much easier to accomplish within the nine-month time frame. The three-part tests can be taken in any order and its only prerequisites are photo identification, a character reference and any bachelor’s degree.
According to an update provided by Dunlap on August 5, he is on track to earn an internal auditing credential by the October deadline. Dunlap stated that, in the time he’s already spent working in the Office of the State Auditor, he’s learned a lot about how government financing and compliance works, and discovered he has worked with much of it before but hadn’t known the terminology.
“I’m preparing for the last battery of exams for the Internal Auditor Certification, and while it’s really, really hard, I’m confident I’ll meet all of the requirements,” Dunlap said.
On the advice of Pola Buckley, the previous state auditor, Dunlap hired a tutor in December, the same month in which he was nominated for the position. He has also been using study guides from Gleim, a prominent accounting exam prep company, and reviewed Sawyer’s Internal Auditing several times.
On top of his studies, working in the auditing office, Dunlap says, “has given me a working knowledge of the process that I find really fascinating, and wish more people knew about and understood.” Dunlap praised his colleagues at the state auditor’s office as a committed and skilled group.
Dunlap is not the first state auditor to be sworn in without the credentials required by the state.
When she was sworn in as the state auditor in 1997, Gail Chase also did not have the credentials to serve in the position, though she did have past auditing experience from working in the state auditor’s office. Dunlap, whose educational background is in Roman history and English, and whose government career has included serving as Secretary of State and as a representative for Old Town in the Maine House of Representatives, does not have the same background.
Like Dunlap, Chase chose to obtain credentials as an internal auditor to allow her to continue in her role. She successfully passed the tests and served two terms as state auditor.
The state auditor is elected to a four-year term by the Maine Legislature, by a majority vote of a joint ballot between the Senate and House of Representatives.
In the event the state auditor position is vacated while the legislature is not in session, the President of the Senate appoints a successor to hold the position until the legislature convenes to either confirm the appointment or votes to appoint a successor.