AICPA Masses Troops to Fight Auditor Reform

The Associated Press is reporting that the American Institute of CPAs is building a lobbying campaign against Enron-related reform proposals being discussed in Washington and demanded by the private sector.

According to AICPA spokesman Joel Allegretti, an e-mail was distributed to 3000 federal key persons - AICPA members who have contact and/or access to lawmakers - urging their assistance in convincing lawmakers to temper the response to requests for reforms.

Former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, who was the AICPA's chief adversary in calling for auditor reform during his tenure, expressed remorse for the AICPA's latest move. "I'm saddened that events of recent weeks have not converted (the AICPA) from being mainly an industry cheerleader to a champion of the public interest."

Andersen, which was booted out of the AICPA/Big Five lobbying coalition earlier this week, further distanced itself from the AICPA efforts, indicating support for legislative reform.

The AICPA warned its members in an "action alert" memo Monday about the "cascade effect" - that new restrictions on auditors of publicly traded companies would spill over to affect auditing of all companies, big or small, and federal and state government agencies.

"Members of Congress must be made acutely aware of what would happen if (certified public accountants) were unable to provide consulting and tax services to their small-business clients – and they must be convinced that the cascade effect will occur," the memo says. "This issue has the potential of being harmful in more profound ways than any issue we have faced."

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