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January 30, 2023

Kansas Represenative Wanted House Committee Meetings to Count as CPE to Keep Her Now Expired CPA License

This is a bit of a strange story. Let's start with the basics.

Lynn Jenkins is a U.S. House Rep for the fine state of Kansas. She is also a CPA. Or rather, she used to be.

This from the Topeka Capital-Journal:

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ state permit to work as a certified public accountant expired nearly two years ago, but the Kansas Republican continues tagging congressional and campaign materials with a CPA label after securing permission from Kansas regulators.

The previously undisclosed arrangement was approved by the Kansas Board of Accountancy in 2011 before Jenkins’ permit to practice as a CPA expired in 2012.

It appears the Board of Accountancy authorized Jenkins' use of CPA as long as she didn't actually do any CPA stuff. You know, like for clients. It also appears they did this because Kansas is a two-tier state, meaning you can hold a CPA certificate that allows you to call yourself a CPA but does not allow you to do CPA stuff, as long as your "real job" doesn't involve, well, CPA stuff. Make sense? No? Let's check out this explainer from the Board:

Once you have passed the CPA exam, you are required to pass the AICPA"s Professional Ethics course.Once a candidate has successfully completed the ethics course, and has been issued a Kansas CPA certificate, a person may use the CPA as a credential only. (In other words, CPA may appear after a person"s name if they are working in an industry that is not related to the practice of public accountancy.) CAUTION: Financial Planning, litigation support, broker/dealer services, investment advisory, consulting, management advisory and business valuation services, ALL fall under the definition of non-attest practice, and in order to use the CPA designation in connection with these services, requires a person to hold a valid Kansas permit to practice. The CPA Certificate allows a person to use the designation as a credential, not hold out or sign reports for the public as a CPA.If a person wants to reflect this information on a resume, then we strongly suggest that the CPA designation is explained by saying, "not licensed to practice in Kansas".

Jenkins first got her certificate in 1992.

Back to the Topeka Capital-Journal:

In Jenkins’ case, the Kansas board rejected her plea to apply hours she spent in U.S. House committee hearings on tax issues toward completion of 40 hours of annual continuing education required for renewal of a state permit. The state board ruled acceptance of the proposal would be without precedent.

Hilarious. I've sat through plenty of boring House hearings myself, does that mean I can call myself a banker?

Jenkins claims she just didn't have time to take the necessary CPE "because of the workload in Congress." Gee, if there's anyone who needs to take a few hours of ethics, it would be Congress.

Interestingly, the Kansas Society of CPAs had something to say about this, but later backpedaled and praised Jenkins for her service:

Mary Rapp MacBain, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Society of CPAs, said in an interview the association served as a watchdog, advocate and champion of CPAs in Kansas. Approximately 4,000 people have active CPA permits in the state, she said.

“We want to protect the brand,” MacBain said. “It’s a brand that is important.”

She said a person holding out to the public as a CPA must have a permit to practice in the profession.

“If you say: ‘Here I am. I’m a CPA.’ You have to have a permit,” she said.

Subsequently, MacBain requested her comments not be published.

Jenkins' office followed with a written statement from MacBain praising the congresswoman's 20-year membership in the society, her leadership in Washington and persistent display of CPA after her name.

“As a member of the KSCPA,” MacBain's statement said, “Congresswoman Jenkins is required to and has held herself to the high ethical standards required of individuals in our profession.”

Let's be real here: certificates are stupid. The general public has no way of knowing someone who puts CPA after their name isn't actually a CPA who can do CPA things. Clearly indicating that she is inactive would not invalidate her past experience as a licensed CPA, but it would be far more honest than slapping CPA on everything just because.

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