Standing in front of the Pennsylvania Capitol, Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for auditor general, a job currently held by Republican Tim DeFoor.
“As a state representative for nearly five years, I have worked to protect workers’ rights, pass common-sense gun safety policies, and root out government corruption and waste,” said Kenyatta. “I’ve held multiple legislative leadership roles: as a member of the powerful state government committee with oversight on state agencies and elections, minority chair of the subcommittee on campaign finance and elections, minority chair of automation and technology in the committee on commerce, and a member of the finance committee.”
Kenyatta, a three-term member of the Pennsylvania House, became the first openly gay person of color to serve in that body when he was elected in 2018.
On Thursday, he discussed his story of growing up in a poor working family. He also outlined his agenda to reform the office and use it as a tool to “keep Pennsylvania families from being screwed.”
Kenyatta claimed to have the support of most of the state’s Democratic congressional delegation as well as state House and Senate leaders, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, and organized labor.
Kenyatta announced a three-point agenda for the office that includes: Rebuilding the department of school audits (which was closed under DeFoor), creating a worker liaison, and using the power of the office to take on wage theft, employee misclassification, union busting, and using the office to measure and support efforts to make communities healthier and safer.
Kenyatta ran for the U.S. Senate last year, losing the Democratic primary to now-Sen. John Fetterman. In that race, he campaigned on an avowedly progressive platform.
House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) said, “Malcolm is exactly what we need in the next auditor general: Tenacious, honest, and mission-driven. I’ve watched him throughout his life and career center on the needs of working Pennsylvanians. I know he will continue that work in this critical statewide role. I’m proud to endorse him.”
Kenyatta earned a B.A. in public communications and a minor in political science from Temple University and an M.S. in strategic and digital communications from Drexel University. He completed the Harvard Kennedy School’s Executives in State and Local Government program, according to his website.
Congressman Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) said, “I’m proud to endorse Rep. Kenyatta to be our next auditor general. I’ve served in Harrisburg and Washington. I know what it takes to deliver for people, and so does Malcolm. As auditor general, I’m confident he will be a powerful and independent voice for common sense, good government, and fairness. He has worked hard around our commonwealth for years now—he can win, and he will win.”
DeFoor, the current auditor general, took office in January 2021. He was previously the Dauphin County controller and has a background in law enforcement, working as an inspector for the state inspector general and the attorney general. According to his website, he also worked as a fraud investigator and internal auditor for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
DeFoor holds an associate degree in paralegal studies from Harrisburg Area Community College, a B.A., in sociology and history from the University of Pittsburgh, and an M.S. in project management from Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
While Kenyatta has been one of the most outspoken members of the state Democratic Party, DeFoor has largely avoided the limelight, instead focusing on the fiscal duties of his office. He released audits last month showing local school districts, including several in the Philly suburbs, were shifting around money to get higher property taxes without facing the voters.
“The overall results of this audit should raise concerns due to the districts’ common yet questionable practices that are placing an excess burden on taxpayers across Pennsylvania,” DeFoor wrote.