Historic Rape Kit Investigation
In April, Adam announced the launch of an historic investigation into the number of untested sexual assault kits in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and in doing so further illustrated that his 2011 promise of being an Auditor of, by, and for the people was not campaign conjecture-it was the truth.
Through the duration of this investigation, the Auditor’s office will survey more than 400 local law enforcement agencies, asking them how many of these untested kits are in their possession. Kentucky State Police estimate the number is in the thousands. Additionally, the office will examine the root causes behind the problem and make recommendation for reform.
The universal praise that Adam has received for initiating this investigation further illustrates the resolve that the people of Kentucky have for an Auditor who isn’t afraid to tackle the problems facing our Commonwealth, no matter what. The Herald Leader Editorial Board said, “Kudos to...State Auditor Adam Edelen for taking the first step toward eliminating the backlog [of untested rape kits].”
With the support of this investigation from the Kentucky State Police, the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association, Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police and Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs (KASAP), Adam is confident that, as Kentucky Sheriff’s Association President Troy Young put it, “This effort will solve crimes.”
Department of Agriculture Examination
Adam has fearlessly ventured into previously uncharted territory, investigating popular Kentucky basketball legend and former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer.
The examination, conducted in a bipartisan manner with the current commissioner, resulted in the highest number of ethics charges and fines ever leveled against an individual in Kentucky and a plea deal that includes prison time and restitution payments of $125,000 – much of which will be returned to Kentucky taxpayers.
Dozens of editorials heralded the exam for finally Farmer accountable and demonstrating that no matter how popular a public figure may be, the rules of law must apply to all of us.
The Lexington Herald-Leader editorial board said Adam “set the performance bar high” by taking a “bipartisan, cooperative approach to conducting an audit of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.”
Even the president of a right-leaning, free-market think tank praised the exam, saying Adam “deserves kudos for his investigation and the public release of the results.”
Rooting out waste and abuse in public schools
Adam is the first Auditor to investigate public schools, having conducted nearly two dozen special examinations to ferret out waste and abuse.
Said Sen. Mitch McConnell’s biographer, “State Auditor Adam Edelen is doing a great job holding school districts and other public agencies accountable for their stewardship of taxpayer money. Edelen has done fantastic work to educate board members, promote best practice and reform government and quasi-governmental bodies too long immune from scrutiny. Edelen’s work as auditor produces a lot of bang for fairly little bucks. Students and taxpayers are the beneficiaries.”
One former superintendent is now in prison and another one may well be on his way.
Adam’s examination of the Jefferson County Public Schools, with a $1 billion annual budget, is the largest review ever conducted by the Auditor's office. It's expected to save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and serve as a catalyst for making JCPS one of the top performing districts in the country.
The school district exams have already lead to vital reforms in the way school boards operate. Organizations representing school district officials and board members, as well as many board members themselves, hae sought guidance from the Auditor’s office in strengthening their policies and procedures.
A Kentucky School Boards Association director told educators at a recent training seminar that “You don’t want to wait until Adam Edelen is coming in looking at you.”
The entrance into public education by Adam’s office also led the Department of Education to Adam’s recommendations to bring additional transparency to superintendent contracts, benefits and evaluations for publication on a publicly-accessible website to enhance transparency. As a result, all 173 school districts have submitted their superintendent contracts so taxpayers can have a clear picture of their compensation packages.
And, Adam pushed a measure in the 2014 General Assembly to increase educational and training standards for school finance officers.
Holding big-insurance accountable
When private, multi-billion dollar insurance companies took over the state’s Medicaid system, Adam made recommendations to solve big problems with the new system.
The Courier-Journal editorial board wrote that there were “10 recommendations in Mr. Edelen’s report, suggestions that the Beshear administration and the managed care companies would do well to heed and integrate into their processes as soon as possible.” It also said that Adam’s decision to review Medicaid billing procedures “makes a lot of sense.”
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.
In addition, he created a new unit in the Auditor’s office to provide real-time oversight over the second-largest expenditure in state government.
Ghost Government Reform
Adam’s proudest accomplishment of his first two years in office is a historic, award-winning effort to reform a $2.7 billion layer of “ghost government” in Kentucky. His leadership has made the Commonwealth a national model for bringing transparency and accountability to special districts.
Nobody in the Commonwealth knew how many special districts existed, how much money flowed through them or whether they were compliant with state law. The effort resulted in a report and a citizen auditor database that allowed taxpayers 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, he 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.
Speaker Stumbo said of the measure: “I believe that in my 30 years in the General Assembly, this is the first major piece of legislation that has originated in the Auditor’s office that has such far-reaching goals.”
The director of the National State Auditors Association, which presented Adam with an Excellence in Accountability Award, said the special districts project “represents a best practice that will be useful to state auditors in all states.”
The Independent editorial board said “Adam Edelen deserves credit for bill on special districts” and that he has done an “excellent job of identifying a problem with the more than 1,200 special districts that spend $2.7 billion in tax dollars each year with little oversight or accountability.”
The director of a government watchdog group said it was a “major, major improvement in government for the people.”
The Messenger-Inquirer editorial board said Adam “deserves to be applauded for tackling such a daunting task in an effort to create accountability and transparency.”
The Morehead News was “proud of State Auditor Adam Edelen and his bold initiative to shed light on Kentucky’s special districts” and that the auditor of public accounts was “living up to the title of his constitutional office.”
The Kentucky New Era editorial board said “… the special taxing district project is a huge undertaking.”
The Journal-Times editorial board wrote that “State Auditor Adam Edelen deserves most of the credit for daring to expose what he aptly described as ‘ghost government’… and that Adam was doing a “great service for the taxpayers of Kentucky in his bold exposure of the weaknesses of existing laws and regulations governing special districts.”
The Middlesboro Daily News editorial board said “We firmly believe that the public will be much better served as a result of his initiative.”
The Adair County Community Voice publisher said Adam has “proven himself to be thorough and innovative as state auditor. He led the charge to improve accountability from taxing districts … something that was long overdue in Kentucky.”
Cyber Security Legislation
Like with special district reform, Adam excelled at forming a broad, bipartisan coalition to push important cyber security protections for taxpayers through the General Assembly. He has a demonstrated track record of reaching across the aisle and building support for reform.
The bill to ensure that local and state government must notify individuals if their sensitive, confidential information is lost or stolen passed the House with more than 80 co-sponsors and an almost equal number of Democrats and Republicans. Nearly 30 organizations, businesses and state agencies endorsed the bill, including AARP of Kentucky, four chambers of commerce, the Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Association of Counties.
Former State Auditor and member of Congress Ben Chandler said he was “strongly supportive of the good work my friend State Auditor Adam Edelen is doing, particularly his focus on cyber security. His common-sense approach to strengthening cyber protections for every Kentuckian is represented in House Bill 5.”
The director of a right-leaning, free-market think tank called the measure a “no-brainer.”
Reformer with Results
Adam's leadership has resulted in real dollars returned to taxpayers and reform to public agencies.
An exam of Bluegrass MH/MR in Lexington led to a $308,000 refund to the Commonwealth. A review of the Bluegrass Area Development District pried a $2.2 million taxpayer asset out of the hands of a private entity. Former public servants caught abusing the public trust are currently paying hundreds of thousands of dollars back to taxpayers.
In an exam the Auditor’s office conducted at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport board, Adam recommended reforming the governance structure to improve accountability and oversight. The recommendations are under review by local stakeholders and a measure to shake up the board could be considered during the next legislative session. Adam worked in a bipartisan manner with the incoming judge/executive of Kenton County and the Boone County judge/executive – both Republicans – to build support for reform.