On a nearly annual basis, there are discussions about the elected office of State Auditor being on the chopping block as an office that has outlived its usefulness.

This has been reflected by the office's shrinking annual budget appropriated by the Alabama Legislature.

However, with current State Auditor Jim Zeigler term-limited, the office is up for grabs and has raised the debate about the need for a state auditor.

The two candidates vying in next week's runoff election for the GOP spot on the November ballot, State Rep. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) and Stan Cooke, have campaigned on reversing the trend of downsizing the office's power and budget and perhaps putting the Examiner of Public Accounts under the State Auditor's office.

State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile), chairman of the House State Government Committee and a member of the Examiner of Public Accounts joint oversight committee, dismissed that as a possibility.

During an appearance on Mobile radio's FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show," Pringle explained why he believed the Examiner of Public Accounts should continue to be a function of the legislative branch.

"There's been talk of doing away with the State Auditor's office for 30 years," Pringle said. "I cannot remember a time when I have not heard people [discuss] doing away with the office. I have basically asked this: Who was the state auditor before Jim Zeigler? Who was the auditor before that? Nobody knows who it is. Mr. Zeigler has been very good at raising awareness, as he calls himself the chief agitator. He's done a good job of promoting himself and that job and stirring the pot.

"But I've told Mr. Sorrell and I told Mr. Cooke and I told Mr. [Rusty] Glover campaigning on putting the Examiner of Public Accounts under the state auditor is good campaign rhetoric. It makes people feel good and sounds logical. But it is not going to happen. I rewrote the entire section of the code dealing with the Examiner of Public Accounts. We were very careful. They are an employee of the legislature."

According to Pringle, the Examiner of Public Accounts works as an employee of the legislature that reports to the legislature on how appropriated money was being spent. He said violations of the law were reported and prosecuted.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.

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