CEO political ideologies and auditor-client contracting


We investigate whether CEOs’ political ideology, as captured by their political contributions, is related to audit risk and, consequently, to audit pricing. We find that Republican CEOs are associated with lower inherent risk and control risk, which represent the two components of audit risk related to the firm, while their Democratic counterparts are seen to have higher risks. Consequently, Republican (Democratic) CEOs are associated with lower (higher) audit fees. The results are robust to controlling for religiosity, executive incentives and ability, obtaining alternative measures of inherent and control risk, and to using propensity score matching and entropy balancing. We further show that changes in political ideology are associated with changes in audit risk and fees. In sum, the evidence implies that auditors view the political ideology of CEOs as an important determinant of engagement risk, which may have important implications for disclosure policy.

Publication Title

Journal of Accounting and Public Policy