Democrats choose Carmel CPA as candidate for Auditor
By Pete Smith
Following the Indiana Democrats’ state convention the weekend of June 1, Carmel resident Mike Claytor was selected as the party’s candidate for state Auditor in the upcoming November general election.
That post is currently held by Suzzane Crouch, who was appointed by Gov. Mike Pence in January. Crouch was selected June 7 as the Republican candidate for Auditor.
Claytor is hoping to follow in the footsteps of state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, also a Carmel Democrat, and grab a prominent state leadership role while residing in the traditional Republican stronghold of Hamilton County. He’s even using the same campaign manager.
Claytor had been working behind the scenes for the past year to earn the party’s nomination, but now comes the hard part – trying to appeal to voters for a position most know little about. And he admits it has been difficult to get anyone excited about it.
“The key thing has been three initials – CPA,” Claytor said, noting that it’s a message that has been resonating.
He said he thinks that’s because the state Auditor has never been a certified public accountant before.
Claytor likes to tell people that if Indiana were a corporation, its $30.5 billion annual budget would make it No. 100 on the Forbes list of top companies.
“If you were a large company, you would have a CPA as your chief financial officer,” he said.
As Auditor, he said he would:
● Work to better document financial transactions and create a system that notifies officials of issues before they become huge mistakes similar to the hundred of millions of dollars of state money that was found sitting idle in unchecked funds during Gov. Mitch Daniels’ administration.
● Make improvements to the Indiana Transparency Portal (a state public records repository) to make it more user-friendly. He also noted he would use his bully pulpit if he found that state agencies were deleting public records from that space.
● Work to make sure that the Auditor’s role on the State Board of Finance (composed of the Governor, Auditor and Treasurer) would allow it to function as an effective check and balance on the budget appropriations of the legislature.
Claytor began his career in 1975 working for the State Board of Accounts, the Indiana agency that audits municipal government entities, and continued working there for 15 years. He was even named by former Republican Gov. Robert Orr to be a Democrat deputy at the agency.
Orr eventually awarded Claytor with the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash. It was the first of four he has received – the others came from former Gov. Bayh, O’Bannon and Kernan.
His role in state government and working at accounting firm Crowe Howrath from 1989 until his official retirement in 2010 put him in close proximity to powerful leaders. And even though this is Claytor’s first time as a candidate, he has served as treasurer for multiple governors’ campaigns.
“I’m just a bean counter,” he said.
But during the past 40 years that he has lived in Carmel, he has even done some consulting work for the city and has been a long-time scoutmaster for a Boy Scout Troop in Home Place.
And looking toward the election in November, he knows that Democrats will vote for him. But that’s not enough to win a statewide office in Indiana today.
He said he knows he has to appeal to moderate Republicans to judge him based on his history of professionalism and his history of working well with Republicans.
“If you live in Carmel, you have to,” he said.