Audit confirms Herald-Leader's findings on Bluegrass mental health agency's unchecked spending

12/20/2012 11:28 AM

A state audit of the Bluegrass Regional Mental Health/Mental Retardation Board confirmed the Lexington Herald-Leader findings that executives gave themselves fat bonuses largely unchecked by the group’s board.

The group handles treatment for 30,000 adults and children across 17 Central Kentucky counties and receives about 68 percent of its funding from the state.

State Auditor Adam Edelen released the audit on Thursday. Among the findings, many of which the Herald-Leader’s John Cheves exposed in his June article, are:

  • Executives paid themselves $2.8 million in bonuses and benefits since 1997 while many of the mental health professionals employed by the group haven’t received pay raises since 2009.
  • The management used $296,000 in state funds to purchase a house for executives near the Oakwood facility in Somerset that the group runs. Cabinet also had requested receipts for another $32,000 for furnishings but paid the bill anyway without receiving the documentation, the audit found. (After the Herald-Leader published its article, Bluegrass Mental Health sold the house for $292,000).
  • Bluegrass Mental Health spent more than $172,000 on lobbying between January 2011 and September 2012 but didn’t adequately document the expenses.
  • The president and a contract consultant submitted $38,000 in credit card expenses without proper documentation.

The auditor’s office recommended the board strengthen its policies and procedures as a result of the findings.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or


  • Chris Tobe wrote on December 20, 2012 02:50 PM :

    Given all the executives had fat KRS pensions, If we had full disclosure on pension benefits like public salaries problems like this could have been exposed years ago. Why does the auditor not recommend pension transparency to prevent abuses like this and those with the “Ghost” special districts.

  • Cumberland Gap wrote on December 21, 2012 10:17 AM :

    Seems like the Board members should be sued for negligence? Who would file this lawsuit? This also seems to be standard for large organizations. The top 1% of management/owners get all the goodies and remainder get no increases. But the Republicans call the bottom 99% the takers who are too dependent and get away with this style of leadership.

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