OREGON – Illinois voters have never elected a certified public accountant as state treasurer, and GOP candidate Bob Grogan thinks it's time they did.
Grogan made a campaign stop at the Oregon VFW on Thursday before he faces off against state Rep. Tom Cross of Oswego in the March 18 GOP primary. Incumbent Dan Rutherford is running for governor. The GOP winner will take on state Sen. Mike Frerichs of Champaign, the only Democrat in the race.
Grogan, a twice-elected DuPage County auditor, quickly gained a reputation as an advocate for transparency and accountbility in county government.
Shortly after being elected to his first term in 2008, Grogan made DuPage the first county in Illinois to post its monthly expenditures online. Grogan said it has saved the county both time and money by reducing Freedom of Information Act requests.
"Instead of six sets of eyeballs, I now have 6 million on the county's checkbook," Grogan said.
Grogan then set up an audit hotline to for citizens to voice concerns about government waste and corruption.
There are two sides to transparency, Grogan says.
"One, of course, is you have to make information accessible," he said. "You also have to make it understandable, so you don't need an MBA or be a CPA to deal with it."
As an accountant, Grogan has audited municipalities, pensions, and nonprofit organizations, and is a certified fraud examiner. Prior to working in accounting, Grogan was a banker. The Downer's Grove resident believes all of those skills would serve him well as treasurer.
Cross, who was House minority leader from 2002 until mid-2013, has also promised to bring more government accountability through his office. The cornerstone would be a government integrity unit that would be made up of officials from different arenas including finance, law and law enforcement. The group would check state financial records, including pension funds, to prevent abuses.
Cross has put an emphasis on his political experience. Grogan thinks his area of expertise is better suited for the office.
"Running on qualifications seems to be kind of a novelty act in Illinois," Grogan said. "One of the reasons Illinois is so much trouble is because politicians keep molding offices to their resumes."
As to why a CPA has never been Illinois treasurer, Grogan theorized that most CPAs probably aren't cut out for campaigning.
"Most CPAs probably wouldn't want to go through what I'm going through," he said. "Running for office is thankless, and you deal with some bullies along the way."
Referencing his primary opponent's attorney general aspirations, Grogan says he is disappointed that the treasurer's job has over the years been treated as a vehicle for higher office.
"I actually want to run for the treasurer's office," Grogan said. "This is not a consolation prize or stepping stone; it's what I want to do."
Polls show Cross with a sizeable lead over Grogan. Cross has already put out ads targeting Frerichs.
The event was sponsored by the Ogle County Republican Central Committee.