About Adam

Adam H. Edelen was sworn in as Kentucky’s 46th Auditor of Public Accounts on Jan. 2, 2012. He has kept his promise of serving as a vigorous taxpayer watchdog, bringing historic reform to a $2.7 billion layer of government, tackling fraud and abuse in our public schools, holding big insurance companies more accountable and more.


Adam believes every dollar wasted to fraud and abuse is one less we can spend to create jobs and give our children the world-class education they deserve. Within days of being sworn in, Adam announced a special examination into the former administration of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The examination found rampant spending abuses and a culture of entitlement. The former commissioner has been indicted on federal charges and faces charges by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission based on the Auditor’s report.

When private, multi-billion dollar insurance companies took over the state’s Medicaid system, Adam made recommendations the state and Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) could implement immediately to solve problems associated with implementation. The Auditor’s office found the managed care companies were not paying claims to health care providers despite receiving more than $700 million in taxpayer dollars. Adam also announced the creation of a new Medicaid Accountability and Transparency Unit in the Auditor’s office to ensure proper oversight over the second-largest expenditure in state government.

Adam’s proudest accomplishment of his first year in office is a historic, award-winning effort to reform a $2.7 billion layer of “ghost government” in Kentucky. Nobody in the Commonwealth knew how many special districts existed, how much money flows through them or whether they were compliant with state law. The effort resulted in a report and a Citizen Auditor database that allowed citizens for the first-time ever to see basic financial information about some 1,200 entities such as libraries, fire districts and health departments. In 2013, Adam helped shepherd a measure through the legislature to bring more accountability and oversight to the entities. House Bill 1 – as dubbed by the Speaker of the House, passed with broad bipartisan support. The National State Auditors Association selected the initiative as one of its Excellence in Accountability Award recipients.

Adam believes a culture of corruption has long held the Commonwealth back. For the first time in recent history, the Auditor’s office began weeding out corruption in our public school districts. Special examinations in Kenton, Breathitt, Mason and Dayton found egregious examples of wasteful spending, lack of oversight of superintendent contracts by school boards and other abuses. As a result, Adam recommended the Department of Education require greater transparency over superintendent contracts and benefits – a recommendation accepted by the Commissioner of Education.


Prior to taking office, Adam served as director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and then as chief of staff to Gov. Steve Beshear. In this role he made major contributions to the administration’s acclaimed efforts in the areas of children’s health insurance, education policy and the sound fiscal management of the state in a time of historic economic difficulty.


Adam credits his successes in government to the leadership skills he learned in the private sector as an entrepreneur and executive. As a senior executive with both Commerce Lexington and Thomas & King, Inc., Adam became an expert in making businesses and organizations more efficient, profitable and accountable.


A former Chairman of the Board of Kentucky Educational Television, Adam was the driving force behind KET’s “Be Well Kentucky” initiative—an acclaimed effort to address Kentucky’s public health challenges. He also chaired the board of the Lexington Urban League, as well as the United Way of the Bluegrass’ Annual Giving Campaign. Adam was the executive force behind New Century Lexington’s nationally recognized reports on community livability, which used private sector-inspired metrics to assess Lexington’s quality of life. Additionally, he was a member of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, an advocacy organization working to improve education for all Kentuckians.


A nationally recognized leader and public servant, Adam was named a leader of the NewDEAL, a national network of pro-growth progressives and received the New Leaders Council 40 Under 40 Leadership Award for entrepreneurship. Adam was named chair of the newly-formed Kentucky chapter of the NLC, which has become the country’s premier leadership training program for progressives. He was identified as a rising star of American government by the Aspen Institute-Rode Fellowship Program for Public Leadership, which is a 24-month program focused on promoting bipartisan problem-solving public leadership.

Adam also was named “Outstanding Young Kentuckian” by the Kentucky Jr. Chamber of Commerce in 2008 and one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Americans” by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce later that year. The latter is arguably the oldest and most prestigious service award in the nation, and previous honorees include presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Ford and Clinton. Adam was also the recipient of the 2002 Lexington Young Professionals Association’s “Rising Star” award and has represented America abroad as both a “Young Leader” with the American-Swiss Foundation and as a United States Marshall Fund fellow.


Born to a farm family in rural Kentucky, he learned the values of integrity, hard work and common sense – and he has never forgotten them. Adam also is part of a new generation of leaders who are more focused on outcomes and honest and effective government than partisan politics.

Adam has a wife, Melissa, and he has young twin sons. He also is an avid sportsman who loves Kentucky’s one-of-a-kind natural beauty.