By Andy Metzger

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE -- Republican nominee for auditor Patricia Saint Aubin struck out against the Democratic incumbent and touted her endurance in a swimming pool and experience as a professional auditor during her speech as a nominee.

"I have a dirty little secret. And that is that I have a bachelor's in accounting from Providence College," Aubin said to cheers at the Republican State Convention Saturday. "And if that is not enough. I have an even dirtier little secret than that. I have professionally audited."

Saint Aubin praised the Boston Globe and critiqued Auditor Suzanne Bump for what she said was a cursory audit of the Chelsea Housing Authority, after a series of newspaper articles, which began before Bump won election, that showed its executive director, Michael McLaughlin, had orchestrated a lavish salary for himself.

"Her audit reports are cursory at best. Mine will be more thorough. I don't care who I piss off," the Norfolk Republican told the News Service in a brief interview backstage. About the housing authority, Saint Aubin said Bump's audit was two pages long and said, "I would have asked for another audit."

McLaughlin was later prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office and pled guilty to falsifying his salary.

Saint Aubin echoed the campaign of Mary Connaughton a professional auditor and former Turnpike Authority board member who went up against Bump for the open seat in 2010 and highlighted the fact that Bump is not a certified public accountant.

"Of course she's vulnerable," Connaughton told the News Service, when asked about Bump. Connaughton noted the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Public Health as agencies in need of oversight.

Bump has written audits that have rankled Democrats - including an audit of the Department of Transitional Assistance that Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr cited in speech Saturday making the case for Republicans taking back power on Beacon Hill.

"Someone needs to be watching the shop," said Connaughton, who said the DTA audit "should be a standard procedure."

A state committeewoman, Saint Aubin said her public service was driven by a tragic incident she survived in Providence.

"My dorm in the middle of the night had a fire. A devastating horrific fire resulting in 10 young lives lost," Saint Aubin said. "Since then, because I survived, I have often asked and I have often prayed: Do I do enough? Has my life added up? I am here today because I hope it has and I hope it will."

Saint Aubin said she was born in New Bedford and grew up in South Dartmouth, the daughter of a one-time Red Sox farm team player who was injured as a Marine in World War II. Saint Aubin said her father George worked as a commercial painter, and a press release says her father served as president of the New Bedford Chamber of Commerce.

Saint Aubin said she would draw on the endurance she has built up as a competitive swimmer in running her campaign.

"I have one last secret, and this one is not dirty. It's that I have been a competitive swimmer since the age of six," said Saint Aubin, who said she swims the mile and is often ranked in the top 10 in her age bracket nationally. She said, "I go the extra mile in the pool. I can go the extra mile on land."