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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Mark Kennedy Sands Off the Truth About Being a CPA

Kennedy's status as CPA draws debate

The Republican's new ad says he'd be the only one in the Senate. DFLers pointed out that his license is inactive.

It has been a recurrent theme of Republican Mark Kennedy's bid for the U.S. Senate and is the chief selling point of a TV ad that his campaign launched Friday: Kennedy is a CPA -- certified public accountant -- who can apply his professional skills to the federal budget.

But DFLers pointed out Friday that Kennedy hasn't practiced as a CPA for decades and is on inactive status with the state Board of Accountancy.

In his latest application for an inactive certificate from the board, filed in December, Kennedy promised not to "lead a person to believe that I hold an active certificate in Minnesota" and to "place the word 'inactive' adjacent to my CPA title."

In the new TV ad, Kennedy says he would be "the only CPA in the Senate ... and I think you need to just take one look at the budget to know we need at least one CPA in the Senate."

In a news release, DFLers called the ad "Kennedy's latest run-in with reality."

Earlier this month, Kennedy criticized his DFL-endorsed opponent, Amy Klobuchar, for claiming that she is a criminal prosecutor. As Hennepin County attorney, Klobuchar supervises dozens of prosecutors but has not personally handled a felony case in court in 7½ years in office. Before that, while working at the Dorsey & Whitney law firm on a contract with the city of Minneapolis, she won a half-dozen misdemeanor cases.

"To say you're a prosecutor, yet we can't find one case you've prosecuted, that does not seem to me to be the straight shooter Minnesotans expect," Kennedy said in a Star Tribune article Aug. 7. He added that for anyone claiming to be a prosecutor "the No. 1 attribute is that they would have prosecuted at least one case."

Kennedy said on Friday that he passed the CPA exam in 1979 and worked at a CPA firm for two years and eight months. After that, and before his election to the U.S. House in 2000, he said, he "worked in the finance side of business."

He also said he didn't know how long his CPA license has been inactive. "I still am a licensed CPA," he added at a State Capitol news conference. "I cannot audit books ... but I have added up a few numbers. I believe I am fully and squarely within the law."

I don't even agree with the headline on this story.... that Rep. Kennedy's status as a CPA merits a debate. I passed the Minnesota CPA exam in 1983, and recently went through the paperwork to update my status.

The State Board of Accountancy should not let this stand.