State Auditor: Political veteran Edelen, newcomer Kemper vie

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By Jesse Osbourne

On Nov. 8, two candidates will vie to replace outgoing Kentucky State Auditor Crit Luallen.


Adam Edelen, the Democratic candidate, and John T. Kemper, III, the Republican candidate, will go head-to-head to see who will fill that vacancy.


Adam Edelen

At 36, Adam Edelen may be young, but he has had a lot of experience in both business and government.

He has served as chief of staff to current Gov. Steve Beshear as well as director of Kentucky Homeland Security. When Paul Patton was Kentucky's governor, Edelen served as an aide for him.

In the private sector, he has served as executive at Thomas & King, Inc. and vice-president of Commerce Lexington.

Edelen said he is running for Kentucky state auditor because he would like to see the government "cut the fat and replace it with muscle."

"As someone with high-level leadership experience in both government and business, making tough decisions about how to cut and where to invest limited resources is something in which I have extensive experience," he said. "From helping small businesses as the vice president of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce, to the leadership I provided in both the public and private sectors, I have a long track record of making businesses and organizations more efficient, effective and accountable."

Edelen said his combination of skills in business and government uniquely qualifies him for the state auditor position. He pointed to his time as director of Kentucky Homeland Security as a critical time in his career in preparation to become state auditor.

"In this role I 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," he said.

Edelen cited John Kemper's personal financial issues as a reason why he is more qualified to be Kentucky's next state auditor.

"The fact that my opponent is in personal bankruptcy, and has also been a chief principal in a business bankruptcy raises serious concerns about his ability to responsibly oversee taxpayer dollars and achieve his campaign platform of 'A debt-free Kentucky,'" Edelen said.

If elected to office, Edelen said he would like to "continue the outstanding commitment to rooting out waste and corruption that Kentuckians have seen during Crit Luallen's two terms as auditor."

"That being said, I have a number of new ideas based on my experience making businesses more efficient and effective that I believe will make the auditor's office even stronger," he said. "Many of these next-generation ideas are geared specifically towards expanding transparency and accountability to the general public."

Edelen pointed to his online Taxpayer Dashboard, which would "provide regular citizens with a non-partisan, metrics-based view of Kentucky's performance in a whole host of areas such as education, public health, the environment and many others."

"Empowering taxpayers to take more control of the political process is critical to a twenty-first century approach that values transparency and accountability above all else," Edelen said.

He also cited the creation of a Digital SAFE-house.

"This online tool will enable whistle-blowers to securely and anonymously provide tips, as well as actual evidence, of potential corruption and waste in government," Edelen said.


John T. Kemper III

Attempts to receive a completed questionnaire from Kemper were unsuccessful, despite a phone conversation and multiple E-mail conversations from two different E-mail accounts affiliated with the candidate.

On his Web site, John Kemper said that he is running for Kentucky State Auditor because “for the last 35 years Kentuckians have allowed the Democratic Party to chart the economic course: of the state.

"I believe a total restructuring of our bloated state government is essential in meeting our responsibilities to the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky," he wrote on the website. "I will be a relentless voice for fiscal responsibility in Frankfort."

Kemper, according to multiple media sources, including The Lexington Herald-Leader, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009 after a real estate project didn't turn out as expected.

There is no mention of the subject at www.johntkemper.com.

Kemper cites Edelen's close ties with the governor's office as something that will prevent him from properly doing his job.

"We need the auditor of public accounts to be from the opposing party to provide the check and balance the founding fathers intended," a statement on Kemper's website reads. "John (Kemper) has a clear goal of liberating Kentucky from the debt we have taken on under corrupt liberal leadership."

On the issue of government spending, Kemper said that smaller government is best.

"Balanced budgets are matters of state security and should be required of any governing body," he said. "Reduced spending is no longer an issue up for debate if Kentucky is to survive."


Jesse Osbourne is the editor of The Springfield Sun.