Illinois's 'Mr. CPA' Loses Court Battle

In what is probably his final attempt to go through the courts to change his name to include the initials "CPA," Illinois State Senator Christopher Lauzen has lost his court battle. Senator Lauzen is a CPA in the sense that he passed the CPA exam. However, in order to be licensed in Illinois and to officially continue to hold himself out as a CPA, Senator Lauzen would have to have some experience working in a public accounting firm (which he does not) and would have to participate (which he does not) in continuing education coursework on an annual basis.

Years ago, Senator Lauzen made the choice not to follow the traditional path for obtaining a license to practice as a CPA. Now, the Kane County court has held that the senator may not change his name to "Christopher J. Lauzen, CPA."

The controversy began during Senator Lauzen's 1998 campaign for state controller. The Senator's opponent used radio advertising to point out that the Senator was not a licensed CPA and that any attempts on the Senator's part to describe himself as a CPA should be discounted.

Senator Lauzen lost that election, but plans to run again when the post is up for reelection in four years. "If I can clearly communicate that this office is the [State of Illinois's] financial office and that I've been prepared with my background to run this office, that's worth three to four percentage points in a general election," stated Senator Lauzen.

Had the name change been approved by the Court, Senator Lauzen would have been able to include the "CPA" designation along with his name on the ballot. As it is, the Senator has indicated that the publicity generated by this court battle may be sufficient to make people aware of his credential.

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