Richmond Register Played Fast & Loose On Audits

Remember last weekend when the Richmond Register ran this story about the taxing district audits Adam Edelen’s office is undertaking?

Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen said Wednesday that errors in his highly publicized report on special districts had been corrected.

But, Edelen failed to correct the information of at least one Madison County district, according to Jimmy Cornelison, director of Madison County EMS.

Earlier this week, Edelen posted an apology on the office’s website stating that there were “glitches and errors” in the 100-page report titled “Ghost Government: A Report on Special Districts in Kentucky.”

Those problems “were all taken care of in the first 48 hours,” Edelen said Wednesday.

However, as of Friday afternoon, the incorrect information as to the compliance of the Madison County Ambulance taxing district had not been corrected, Cornelison said.

And then ran this scathing editorial (it’s since been pulled offline but we have a cached copy)?

The next race for Kentucky governor is still three years away, but at least one, and perhaps another, prospective Democratic candidate thinks running against semi-independent local districts will give him an advantage.

One candidate’s strategy, however, doesn’t seem to be working so well.

With great fanfare, state Auditor Adam Edelen announced that he was going to audit the districts that provide library, agriculture extension, public health, emergency medical services, rural utilities or other such services around the state.


I was rather surprised to see the Madison County Ambulance Board on Edelen’s non-compliant list. I know Jimmy Cornelison and Carlos Coyle, the agency’s director and assistant director, and W.O. Bradley, the board chair, and am well aware of what a tight ship they run. These guys are all business. If you don’t believe me, just try to put something past them.

To say Cornelison also was surprised by Edelen’s list would be an understatement. He quickly came to the newspaper office with documents that proved the ambulance board was fully compliant with its reporting. It always has been, Cornelison said, and I don’t doubt him.

This chain of events seems to have raised more doubts about Edelen than the special districts, at least those in Madison County.


Those who call the special districts taxation without representation should remember this system was enacted and has been kept in place by the state’s chief representative body.

Turns out, neither the writer of the original story nor editor Bill Robinson bothered to contact Edelen or his staff before running those pieces. That’s something we would do. Not exactly something a newspaper that professes to be an old school operation would do.

The guy, Cornelison, mentioned in the story? He didn’t reach out to Edelen’s office at all to get things corrected before he melted down with Robinson.

Robinson wrote that Edelen announced plans to audit special districts. He didn’t. He said he would audit as complaints are received that warrant special examination. He also said that Stumbo plans to seek legislation to give fiscal courts authority over special district rates of taxation. But, uh, Stumbo has said he opposes that and made it clear to the press prior to Robinson’s diatribe.

Edelen and his staff made mistakes with the database and acknowledged there were errors. We’ve definitely not been shy of calling him out for anything and everything he does that’s stupid. That’s a lot of things. Even some of the staff that he’s chosen to hire is laughable. But let’s get real.

How on earth could anyone, anywhere with common sense attack him over an effort to provide transparency for the taxpayers? Isn’t that what the media wants?

And you wonder why Kentucky can’t have nice things. It’s because small town papers like this muddy the waters and obstruct progress. This Commonwealth will never dig itself out of this Frankfort-made financial disaster unless tax dollars are handled better and no one can suggest that’s a bad idea.