Auditor-provided lobbying service and audit quality

Brian Burnett, Hui Chen, Katherine Gunny
Journal of Accounting, Auditing & Finance,Vol. 33, Issue 3, Pages: 402-434.
Regulators and the public have expressed concerns about accounting firms lobbying politicians and regulators on behalf of their own audit clients because it could pose an advocacy threat to auditor independence. In this study, we examine whether these lobbying activities by accounting firms are associated with their clients’ audit quality. As required disclosures of lobbying activities under the Lobbying Disclosure Act are very limited, we construct a proxy to capture auditor lobbying on behalf of audit clients. Using our proxy for lobbying, we find that perceived audit quality (measured using earnings response coefficients) is negatively related to lobbying. However, we fail to find that actual audit quality is lower for these clients (measured as the propensity to restate earnings, propensity to issue a going-concern opinion, and discretionary accruals). Our findings suggest that investors perceive auditors’ lobbying for