Hoo boy, this report from State Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen about Richie Farmer has been a long time coming.
Turns out? Richie used state resources and employees for his own personal gain. He’s still refusing to be interviewed by auditors but you can bet he and his people will trash this report anonymously and in the press.
“The law makes no distinction between icons and the rest of us, and neither do I,” Edelen said. “The report paints a clear picture of an administration that had no qualms about treating taxpayer resources as its own. The former commissioner had state employees on state time take him hunting and shopping, mow his yard, build a basketball court in his backyard, and even chauffer his dog. He showered himself with gifts and office equipment and rewarded friends with jobs. These are just some of the documented abuses that should outrage every Kentuckian.”
- Over a two-year period, the former personnel director was directed to reserve hotel rooms in the names of two employees who she knew would not be staying overnight during the State Fair. The former commissioner used the rooms for his family members at a cost of $4,257 to taxpayers.
- Employees did work at Farmer’s home on state time. They built a basketball court and moved a gun safe from his garage to his basement.
- Employees drove Richie on hunting and shopping trips. He went so far as to force a merit employee to leave a training session while in Indiana to drive him to a store.
- In 2007 and 2011, he used products purchased by his department and donated by Kentucky Proud vendors to create gift baskets for his family members.
- You already know about the two small refrigerators he had.
- Two laptops assigned to Richie remain missing
- He hid the true cost of the 2008 Souther Association of State Departments of Agriculture conference
- Six $449 rifles signed for by Richie remain missing
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the department ginseng it confiscated during an illegal harvest. USFWS directed the department to sell the ginseng and use the proceeds to benefit the ginseng industry in Kentucky. The exam found the department spent $43,000 of the $241,000 proceeds toward the purchase of vehicles for its animal enforcement officers, who do not perform duties associated with the ginseng program.
- $15,000 in tobacco settlement funds were maybe misappropriated
- $70,457 was paid to one employee for work hours and travel miles that can’t be substantiated
- An in-law of Richie’s employed as an amusement safety inspector did all kinds of crazy things. Like disabling a GPS device used to track distances and movement.
- Richie signed the timesheets of his girlfriend/mistress because his chief of staff refused to do so/couldn’t substantiate any work she did
- A former executive director and former director told staff to delay action against a grain dealer because it was during an election year and could cause a negative political outcome for the former commissioner.
- A $1.65 million fuel-testing lab that was projected to test 20,000 samples a year has not met its goal and lost the state more than $744,000 in fiscal year 2011.
- Roughly half the department’s employees had permanently assigned take-home vehicles. Many of the employees were not justified in having state vehicles.
There’s lots more detailed in the report. 41 findings and 126 recommendations. Many issues surrounding the reporting of taxable benefits to the IRS and Kentucky Department of Revenue. So you’ll likely want to read it all:
CLICK FOR HUGE PDF
You’ll absolutely want to read the rest – including remarks from Jamie Comer and some photos of guns and gifts – after the jump…
Attached at the end of the auditor’s report is a six-page letter from Jamie Comer, the current Commissioner of Agriculture, detailing all of the changes he’s made as a result of Richie’s shenanigans. A taste:
Your audit cited a number of employees who could not account for their time and were not performing their job duties. In addition to taking disciplinary action against these employees, I have directed that every vehicle assigned to a field inspector in a consumer protection role be fitted with GPS monitoring.
Additionally, on your suggestion, I froze the compensatory pay-outs for a number of employees pending the findings of this audit. I have already determined that at least two of these payments totaling more than $5000 are unwarranted. I will not exacerbate the disregard to the taxpayers by releasing compensatory payments to employees who cannot account for their work product.
The mismanagement of the fuel lab in our Office of Consumer and Environmental Protection is a deep concern. Not only was the fuel testing process applied arbitrarily, there was no effort to obtain outside contract work that could make the fuel lab the revenue-generating program it was intended to be.
Guns Richie took – he only returned a few:
One of the many gifts worth more than $200 that Richie didn’t report:
Turns out? Richie really is forgettable. And maybe in a heap of trouble.