Connaughton for auditor

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Almost every candidate for political office promises to be a "fiscal watchdog," but when Mary Z. Connaughton says she will fulfill that role it rings true. The Republican candidate for state auditor filled that role as a member of the Turnpike Authority, and her aggressive pursuit of transparency combined with her skills as a Certified Public Accountant will make her the kind of auditor who will shake up Beacon Hill to the benefit of voters.

In her four years on the Turnpike Authority, Ms. Connaughton uncovered financial gaffes, worked to assure that they were resolved, and pressed for the elimination of perks for authority commissioners. That the Turnpike Authority was eventually merged with the Highway Department at considerable savings for taxpayers is in part due to her efforts. The persistence, skepticism and financial expertise Ms. Connaughton showed on the authority will be invaluable as she takes on some promising proposed initiatives, among them an independent financial assessment of all major legislation and a top to bottom analysis of state government.

One of the few officials in the public realm who embraces the new media, Ms. Connaughton kept residents informed about the Turnpike Authority by writing a blog and promises to keep the public informed as auditor. Ms. Connaughton told The Eagle that "sunshine is the best disinfectant," and we are sure she will bring transparency to the auditor's position.

Democratic candidate Suzanne Bump has offered promising initiatives as well, such as an audit of the state's health care system with an eye toward finding savings, as well as audits of business tax incentives and the publicly funded criminal defense system.

Her candidacy, however, was hurt when it was revealed that she and her husband had declared both their Great Barrington and Boston homes as primary residences and received a property tax break.

Even though no laws were broken and the tax savings were returned to Boston, Ms. Bump benefited from a loophole in the tax laws, and one of the responsibilities of an auditor is to find and close loopholes.

The Eagle endorses Mary Z. Connaughton for state auditor.

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