Adam Edelen

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Adam Edelen
Adam Edelen KY.jpg
Auditor of Kentucky
In office
January 2, 2012 – January 4, 2016
Governor Steve Beshear
Matt Bevin
Preceded by Crit Luallen
Succeeded by Mike Harmon
Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kentucky
In office
July 2008 – September 15, 2010
Governor Steve Beshear
Preceded by Jim Cauley
Succeeded by Mike Haydon
Personal details
Born (1974-11-26) November 26, 1974 (age 42)
Flaherty, Kentucky, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Children 2
Alma mater University of Kentucky
Website Official website

Adam Edelen (born November 26, 1974, in Meade County, Kentucky) was the Auditor of Public Accounts for the Commonwealth of Kentucky from January 2, 2012 to January 4, 2016. Prior to that, he was the Chief of Staff for Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear[1] from July 2008 until September 15, 2010, when he resigned to work as a business consultant, before deciding to run for the Auditor of Public Accounts for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.[2][3][4][5]

Early years and career[edit]

Edelen was born to a farm family in Meade County, Kentucky. His mother was two months shy of her 17th birthday when he was born. Edelen's parents divorced when he was young and his time as a child was divided between his mother's home in Louisville and his father's farm in rural Meade County.[6]

Edelen is a graduate of the University of Kentucky, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta social fraternity.

At 21, he began his public service career as one of the youngest aides ever to serve a Kentucky governor (Paul Patton). He went on to gain experience in the private sector as a senior executive with both the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce (Commerce Lexington) and Thomas & King, Inc.

In 2008, he returned to the public sector, serving as Director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security[7] and then as Chief of Staff to Governor Steve Beshear.[8]

Kentucky Auditor[edit]

Within days of being sworn in, Edelen announced a special examination into the former administration of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.[9] This examination was conducted at the request of the Republican Agriculture Commissioner, James Comer. The examination found rampant spending abuses and a culture of entitlement.[10] Former commissioner and UK basketball star Richie Farmer was sentenced to 27 months in prison on federal charges and a year in prison on a state charge based on issues identified in Edelen's report.[11]

Edelen also led an effort to reform special districts, which represent a $2.7 billion layer of government. The effort resulted in a report and a database that allowed the public to see basic financial information about roughly 1,200 entities such as libraries, fire districts and health departments.[12] In 2013, Edelen helped shepherd a measure through the legislature to bring more accountability and transparency to the entities.[13] House Bill 1 – as dubbed by the Speaker of the House – passed with broad, bipartisan support.[14] The National State Auditors Association selected the initiative as one of its Excellence in Accountability Award recipients.[15] The initiative was called the "biggest good government initiative we have had since the 1990s" by the leadership of Common Cause KY.[16][17]

When private, multibillion-dollar insurance companies took over the state's Medicaid system, Edelen made recommendations that 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 efficiently processing claims to health care providers despite receiving more than 700 million taxpayer dollars. Edelen created a new Medicaid Accountability and Transparency Unit in the Auditor's office to provide real-time oversight over the second-largest expenditure in state government.[18]

In 2012, Edelen began examining spending practices in public schools. Special examinations in 15 public school districts found wasteful spending, lack of oversight of superintendent contracts by school boards and other abuses.[19] One exam led to criminal conviction of a former superintendent[20] and more than $500,000 returned to the community.[21] Based on Edelen's recommendations,[22] the Kentucky Department of Education now requires school districts to submit superintendent contracts for posting on a publicly accessible website.[23]

In 2014, Edelen proposed legislation to strengthen Kentucky's cyber security protections and require state and local government to notify citizens if their data is compromised in a data breach.[23] Kentucky was one of four states that lacked security breach notification laws. House Bill 5 passed the House 99–1 and the Senate unanimously.[24]

In 2015, Edelen lost his re-election bid to little-known outsider Mike Harmon, dashing hopes of state Democrats that Edelen, considered a rising star in the party, would challenge Senator Rand Paul in the following election.[25] Edelen outspent his opponent nearly 30-to-1, but lost by a four-point margin, 52–48.[26]

In 2016, Edelen's efforts to expose the practice of special districts was the focus of a segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.[27]


Edelen was one of Government Technology magazine's 2014 Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers, an award bestowed on innovators in the public sector across the country.[28] In 2008, Edelen was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. This award is arguably the oldest and most prestigious service award in the nation and previous honorees include presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton.[29]

Other honors include:

  • The NewDEAL leader
  • New Leaders Council 40 Under 40 Leadership Award recipient[30]
  • Kentucky Jr. Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Young Kentuckian
  • Aspen Institute Rodel fellow[31]
  • Lexington Young Professionals Association Rising Star
  • American-Swiss Foundation Young Leader[32]
  • United States Marshall Fund Fellow

Community service[edit]

As a two-term gubernatorial appointee to the board of Kentucky Educational Television, Chairman Edelen was the driving force behind the "Be Well Kentucky" initiative—an acclaimed effort which addresses Kentucky's public health crisis. While vice-president of the Commerce Lexington, Edelen was responsible for the nationally recognized New Century Lexington Reports on Community Livability, which used a broad range of metrics for measuring Lexington's quality of life. Edelen has also chaired the United Way of the Bluegrass Annual Campaign and the Lexington Fayette County Urban League. He has also served as a member of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

Personal life[edit]

Edelen is married to Melissa (Narramore) and he has twin sons. The Edelens make their home on a small farm in Lexington, Kentucky. He is a member of Lexington's First Presbyterian Church. He is an avid sportsman, reader of history, and University of Kentucky basketball fan.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Governor Appoints Adam Edelen to Succeed Cauley". Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office. June 18, 2008. 
  2. ^ "Gov. Beshear's chief of staff resigning". Retrieved August 12, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Former Beshear aide Adam Edelen to run for state auditor". Retrieved October 2, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Adam Edelen will run for state Auditor; Damon Thayer says he might too". Retrieved September 20, 2010. 
  5. ^ Adam Edelen Leaves Governor's Office Archived August 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Meade County's Adam Edelen: Wired for politics". Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Adam H. Edelen Appointed Kentucky Homeland Security Director". Government Technology. January 2, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Lexington, KY local and state news by the Lexington Herald-Leader -". Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Lexington, KY local and state news by the Lexington Herald-Leader -". Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  10. ^[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Tom Loftus, USA TODAY Sports (January 14, 2014). "Ex-Kentucky star Richie Farmer sentenced to 27 months in prison". Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  12. ^[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Lexington, KY local and state news by the Lexington Herald-Leader -". Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  14. ^ "13RS HB1". Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  15. ^ "The page cannot be found". Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  16. ^[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 22, 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-21. 
  18. ^ "Lexington, KY local and state news by the Lexington Herald-Leader -". Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Adam Edelen Auditor of Public Accounts - School District Examinations". Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  20. ^ "William Gary Rye: Former Dayton schools superintendent pleads guilty to embezzlement". WCPO. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Dayton, Ky. school district to recover $511,000 from former superintendent's fraud, auditor says". WCPO. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  22. ^[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 22, 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-21. 
  24. ^ "14RS HB5". Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  25. ^ Estep, Bill (November 3, 2015). "Republican Mike Harmon defeats incumbent Edelen in race for auditor". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved February 25, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Decision 2015: Harmon defeats Edelen for State Auditor". WAVE. November 4, 2015. Retrieved February 25, 2017. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Adam Edelen -- 2014 GT Top 25 Winner". Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  29. ^ List of Ten Outstanding Young Americans#E
  30. ^ New Leaders Council. "40 Under 40". New Leaders Council. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship Class of 2012". The Aspen Institute. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Beshear Chief of Staff, Adam Edelen, scores national award as one of top ten young americans «  LawReader". Retrieved November 13, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Crit Luallen
Auditor of Kentucky
Succeeded by
Mike Harmon