GOP, DiCarlo Trade Barbs Over CPA License Claims
Republicans say Denice DiCarlo lied about being a CPA; she says the issue is a smear tactic and deflection.
A question West Deptford Republicans have pushed for months—did Committeewoman Denice DiCarlo lie about having a certified public accountant (CPA) license—has come to a head just before the township committee election.
Republicans say the issue speaks to DiCarlo’s character while the Democratic candidate says the ongoing question is an attack only meant to distort her credentials. Now, the issue is spilling over into the public eye. At a recent township committee meeting, the questions over DiCarlo’s assertion that she’s a CPA sparked a heated debate between her and her GOP opponent, Jeff Hansen.
Questions about DiCarlo’s professional background deepened recently when Republican Party chair Denny Forte questioned West Deptford’s school superintendent regarding the biography drafting policy for school board members. DiCarlo previously sat on the school board.
Her biography from that time states in part, “She is a CPA …”
Superintendent Kevin Kitchenman said school board candidates draft their own biographies, which are mailed out in a newsletter during election time. Elected candidates have that biography posted to the district’s website, and its accuracy is the responsibility of the board member, Kitchenman said.
Republicans pounced after the Oct. 23 school board meeting, sending out a release saying “DiCarlo lied to the residents of West Deptford about being a CPA.”
“Falsifying your credentials to the public when seeking an elected position is reprehensible. It speaks to the character of that candidate and their lack of honesty and integrity,” Forte said in a statement.
Patch sent DiCarlo a series of questions via email, and she did not respond to several, including the current status of her CPA application.
(Click the PDFs, above, to view the documents)
GOP follows paper trail
The CPA question has dogged DiCarlo for months. Resident Joe Rando first questioned DiCarlo’s CPA status at a township committee meeting on June 14, after hearing at a May meeting from DiCarlo that her license was inactive. At the time, DiCarlo maintained she was inactive as a CPA and that she would provide the specifics of her credentials to Anthony Ogozalek, the township solicitor.
In an interview during the summer, Rando said he did not want to see the CPA issue turn into a political witch hunt. But Rando said he was frustrated over the issue, particular evasion and unresponsiveness—attributes of the Democratic party, he charged.
“There are a lot of problems here and they need to be straightened out,” Rando said. “I want blood, and I don’t care whose blood it is.”
Members of the West Deptford Republican Party later obtained paperwork seeing DiCarlo’s certifications under the Right-to-Know law in Pennsylvania. Within the records is DiCarlo’s CPA application—filed July 30, 2012. Of the four questions posed to DiCarlo on the application, ones asks whether she holds a license in any other state or jurisdiction. She checked off “no.”
“The people of West Deptford shouldn’t be lied to—they deserve better,” Hansen told DiCarlo at an Oct. 18 township committee meeting, following the announcement of his findings.
During Hansen’s confrontation, DiCarlo maintained that she never said her license was active. She stated she has all of the credentials required of a CPA. DiCarlo passed the exam in May 2002, according to Pennsylvania records, but did not complete the steps to obtain a license.
DiCarlo is the vice president of finance and controller for PBS Kids Sprout, a position that doesn’t require a CPA license.
At the Oct.18 meeting, resident Brandon Umba challenged DiCarlo on her school board biography. DiCarlo replied that she was unaware of the school board biography’s contents and that none of her campaign literature states she is a CPA.
However, some residents, including Joe Holovachuk, said this sort of political back and forth has no place at township committee meetings.
“What was done here was an absolute disgrace,” he said, rebuking Mayor Raymond Chintall, a Republican, specifically for allowing it. “Political attacks should be done outside the meetings.”
But Republicans say it’s an issue voters should know about.
“It’s plain as day, she never had it,” Republican chair Forte said.
The party suspected something was amiss with the CPA license after DiCarlo “pounded her chest” over her professional background, he added. That’s when he and others decided to dig deeper.
Forte is convinced that DiCarlo knowingly lied about being a CPA. Furthermore, Forte points to discrepancies in DiCarlo’s educational background between her board of education biography and her current LinkedIn profile.
“If you’re lying about yourself, what else are you lying about?” Forte asked.
DiCarlo fires back at ‘smear tactics’
DiCarlo called the GOP’s investigation nothing more than an attempt by the Republican Party to paint her as something she is not. She says the “attack” is an attempt to deflect West Deptford residents from seeing that she is an asset to the committee. DiCarlo points her successes, including saving the town’s taxpayers close to $1 million dollars in Sunoco litigation, she told Patch.
“If you don’t have a resume or record you can be proud of, ...you lie to try to tear down your opponent,” DiCarlo said.
DiCarlo maintains that she did not inflate her credentials, which have landed her executive positions at Comcast Corporation and PBS Sprout.
“I’m qualified to hold responsible positions in a Fortune 100 company, but yet I’m not qualified to hold the position of a West Deptford Township Committee member?” DiCarlo said.
The incumbent said she does value honesty and integrity, and added it is upsetting to be called a liar. But, she said, this is “just typical Republican smear tactics.” DiCarlo fired back at attacks on her character, saying the charges made against her are are “despicable and show poor character.”
“These constant lies and continuation of relentlessly running down running down West Deptford must stop,” DiCarlo said. “I offer a positive vision for the future, and the Republicans will stop at nothing to distort my credentials.”
Mike Monostra and Bryan Littel contributed to this report.