Matt Dunlap, the former Maine secretary of state who was elected state auditor by the Legislature in 2020, has vacated the post after failing to gain certification as a public accountant.

Dunlap informed Senate President Troy Jackson by letter Friday that he had not met the legal requirement to remain state auditor despite taking courses and a battery of certification exams. Dunlap also informed members of the State House press corps via email Friday afternoon that he had fallen short on the exams and the post would temporarily be filled by Deputy State Auditor Melissa Perkins.

“I’ve taken all the exams, but have fallen short – just short,” Matt Dunlap wrote. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file photo

In his letter to Jackson, Dunlap notes he passed one of the three exams needed to become a certified public account, a requirement for the job, but failed two others, by four questions and one question, respectively.

“I’ve taken all the exams, but have fallen short – just short,” Dunlap wrote in an email to the Portland Press Herald, Maine Public and the Bangor Daily News. “I plan on retaking the exams, but the Institute for Internal Auditors won’t allow me to retake them for 60 days, putting me outside the statutory window.”

Dunlap was the longest serving secretary of state in recent history, holding the post for 14 non-consecutive years. When he was term-limited from serving again, he announced he would seek the auditor’s position in November 2020 and was elected to the post when the 1st session of the 130th Legislature convened on Dec. 3, 2020.

The auditor position has a great deal of power. In addition to performing an audit of state government, the office has the power to audit all counties and municipalities within the state. According to state statutes, the office also has the power “to perform audits of all accounts and financial records of any organization, institution or other entity receiving or requesting an appropriation or grant from State Government and to issue reports … .”

Dunlap was sworn in as state auditor in January. Under state law, he had nine months to become a certified public accountant or step down from the position. Jackson will now need to nominate another person to fill the role. The process will involve confirmation hearings and votes in the Legislature. Once confirmed, state auditors serve four-year terms.

Christine Kirby, communications director for Troy Jackson, said the Senate president just received Dunlap’s letter Friday afternoon.

“He has not responded to the letter yet,” Kirby said in an email. “Deputy State Auditor Melissa Perkins is prepared to serve as Interim State Auditor. President Jackson has full confidence in her ability to temporarily fill this role while he explores his options under the law and determines the appropriate next steps.”

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