In this study, we propose a reciprocal rent-seeking game between politicians and individual auditors with political connections, and examine how these auditors' political connections influence their audit quality. Using hand-collected data from the Chinese market from 2008 to 2013, we find that politically connected auditors have a significantly lower tendency to issue modified audit opinions (MAOs). In addition, we also find that politicians' career prospects are significantly adversely influenced by MAOs being issued in their jurisdictions, while auditors' political connections enable them to charge higher audit fees, acquire larger market share, and reduce the likelihood of encountering regulatory sanctions. Further evidence suggests that compared with their non-connected counterparts, the politically connected auditors tend to issue less accurate audit opinions, reduce client firms' earnings response coefficients (ERCs), and increase client firms' capital costs. Collectively, our study results suggest that individual auditors' political connections facilitate the reciprocal rent-seeking activities between these auditors and politicians, which ultimately undermines audit quality.

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