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Report: Farmer Misused State Resources & Staff

April 30th, 2012 · 22 Comments

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.”

The highlights:

  • 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.

-SNIP-

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.

-SNIP-

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.

Tags: Adam Edelen · Corruption · Flashback · Investigation · Richie Farmer · Wasted Money

22 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jimfkft // Apr 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

    How do the citizens of Kentucky benefit from having an elective agriculture commissioner? Why did it take eight years for “Richa” to be investigated? Did no one in the department file a whistle blower complaint with the AG’s office? And, one last rhetorical question, what does this audit say about David Williams’ judgment? It seems incomprehensible that Williams fully vetted Richa as his running mate and found nothing to raise any suspicions.

  • 2 jake // Apr 30, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Sadly, Richie’s folks did try to blow the whistle and were beaten down.

    Not even Jack’s office wanted to dig in.

    But about David Williams – That campaign realized on day 2 that Richie was an idiot and an absolute waste of space. They instantly knew it was the worst call they could ever make. I wrote about it a lot during the race. Particularly his childish meltdown over candy.

  • 3 E // Apr 30, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Our very own Leona Helmsley !

  • 4 AGGIE // Apr 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I agree with all of the above with one exception. We do benefit greatly from an elected ag commisioner. An appointtee would be more likely to have these abuses i.e. Beshear administration shenanigans. Way to go Jamie Comer for having some balls and keeping ‘em in check!

  • 5 Skipper // Apr 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    William’s camp knew and they knew before he was selected.

  • 6 jake // Apr 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Skipper: Prove it.

    I’m betting you cant. Since I remember the day they all figured Richie out. It was a day he melted down over the campaign manager refusing to reimburse him for hundreds of dollars worth of candy purchases.

    That’s the day when they started pressuring Richie’s employees to come clean and it’s what eventually led to this investigation. Many of those people responsible for it now work for Comer.

  • 7 Conservative Kentuckian // Apr 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Any truth to the rumor that Farmer was picked as much to take a potential primary rival off the ballot as much as it was to take advantage of his supposed popularity as a former basketball star?

  • 8 jake // Apr 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Richie is dumb as a rock. Would opponent could he possibly have been picked to go up against? David?

    Richie couldn’t possibly have run for office on his own. Far too intellectually disadvantaged for that. If you’ve met the man, you know what I mean. (Probably can’t count beyond 100, only knows the primary colors, barely writes his name, only slightly exaggerating here)

  • 9 agemp // Apr 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Ag employee Johnny Roberts was the executive director of consumer protection under farmer for years. Farmer hired him into the department here and while he was using that title he took farmer and his wife to fayette mall, hunting on his property, etc. roberts is in the thick of this whole thing but won’t be fired because tale around here is that he and his wife gave money to the new commissioner too.

  • 10 le gardien de but // Apr 30, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Um, dumb question–why is he not in jail??? Can we look forward to his incarceration???? I hope so…

  • 11 agemp // Apr 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    wow. just read the report. old johnny roberts figures prominently. He was the exec director of consumer and environmental protection mentioned over and over. he’s the one that told an inspector/director to leave the grain business alone because it was election year. he was reimbursed for snacks, phone batteries, and who knows what else (oh, yeh, including expenses for that trip to the caribbean he made with farmer). he drove farmer to fayette mall for shopping and asked for travel expenses and counted it as time when he took farmer hunting to a farm over in franklin county. now, roberts is another position in the department. was it advertised or was he put in it. he held fundraisers for comer and gave money too. so did that former outreach director who’s through this report too. he was in on expenses and orders of employees too. he’s been promoted to deputy commissioner by comer but sure it has nothing to do with his son being farm bureau’s chief government affairs director. both of them should be fired or at least comer should watch out when they do the same for him.

  • 12 woodfordfeed // Apr 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    wow. just read the report. old johnny roberts figures prominently. He was the exec director of consumer and environmental protection mentioned over and over. he’s the one that told an inspector/director to leave the grain business alone because it was election year. he was reimbursed for snacks, phone batteries, and who knows what else (oh, yeh, including expenses for that trip to the caribbean he made with farmer). he drove farmer to fayette mall for shopping and asked for travel expenses and counted it as time when he took farmer hunting to a farm over in franklin county. now, roberts is another position in the department. was it advertised or was he put in it. he held fundraisers for comer and gave money too. so did that former outreach director who’s through this report too. he was in on expenses and orders of employees too. he’s been promoted to deputy commissioner by comer but sure it has nothing to do with his son being farm bureau’s chief government affairs director. both of them should be fired or at least comer should watch out when they do the same for him.

  • 13 Debbie Linnig Michals // Apr 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Mr. Farmer needs to be criminally indicted by the Franklin County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. A crook is a crook, whether he was a sports hero should not be a factor in the grand juries decision to indict. The people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky were the victims, it was our money he wasted and misused. I might not be a bad idea since birds of a feather flock together (David Williams) to look at the Senate Leadership expenses, look at the catering and leadership training seminars in Mexico.

  • 14 candy // Apr 30, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Kudos to Edelen. Jury is out on Comer. The former Executive Director of Consumer Protection was a fundraiser for Comer. He is mentioned throughout the audit including the section about him directing a subordinate to hold off on action regarding a grain company because it might harm Farmer in an election uear. He’s the same employee who admits he took Farmer hunting and counted as state time. Another employee admits to be a friend and receiving appointment by Farmer as Division Director of Outreach despite being a division of one. He is the one who others state ordered staff to book hotel rooms in staff names for Farmer’s family. He also raised and gave money to Comer as did his ag employee wife. Comer says he disciplined all involved. This one was not only retained but promoted to Deputy Commissioner by Comer. Whether he knew before or not he knows now. Both of the employees should likely be fired but will Comer do it?

  • 15 jake // Apr 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    How is the jury out on Jamie? Sure, he’s a teabagger and half-puss when it comes to fearing the teabaggers. But his folks are the ones who brought the corruption to light. And he brought in Holly Harris to clean up that disaster.

  • 16 candy // Apr 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    By all accounts, Harris brings the brains and political skills lacking by Comer and his other staff. However, the the jury is out because the background on two of Farmer’s top, trusted employees is in the report including one admitting to interfering with an inspection because it was election time. The other directed staff to order hotel rooms for Farmer’s family in employee names. Both received expense and travel expense reimbursements at question. One admitted to taking Farmer Christmas shopping at Fayette Mall in state vehicle and taking Farmer hu.ting and claiming it as state time. H e served as a nonmerit under Patton in Transportation. The other worked forWilkinson. Both contributed to Comer, or their spouses did, and even helped host events. One’s spouse also works in the department. Both were nonmerit status when Comer went in. Both are in new jobs in the department including a promotion to deputy commissioner. So, while Comer requested the audit (info), now he has it. What will he do with these two? They should be relieved of their duties even from the new jobs they got from Commissioner Comer.

  • 17 Pilotbee // Apr 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    By all accounts, Harris brings the brains and political skills lacking by Comer and his other staff. However, the the jury is out because the background on two of Farmer’s top, trusted employees is in the report including one admitting to interfering with an inspection because it was election time. The other directed staff to order hotel rooms for Farmer’s family in employee names. Both received expense and travel expense reimbursements at question. One admitted to taking Farmer Christmas shopping at Fayette Mall in state vehicle and taking Farmer hu.ting and claiming it as state time. H e served as a nonmerit under Patton in Transportation. The other worked forWilkinson. Both contributed to Comer, or their spouses did, and even helped host events. One’s spouse also works in the department. Both were nonmerit status when Comer went in. Both are in new jobs in the department including a promotion to deputy commissioner. So, while Comer requested the audit (info), now he has it. What will he do with these two? They should be relieved of their duties even from the new jobs they got from Commissioner Comer.

  • 18 PKC // Apr 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Richie was also well know for asking business contacts to supply women for him.

  • 19 Conservative Kentuckian // May 1, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Any reason we have two instances of two different usernames posting identical comments here?

    Jake, my contention yesterday was that Farmer was well-known in certain circles to be contemplating his own run for governor. Being in the same general area of the state as Farmer is from, I heard this from several independent sources. What I was saying was that the rumor was that Williams selected him as his running mate to remove him from the potential list of gubernatorial candidates in the GOP primary as much as to try to benefit from his former UK player status.

  • 20 jake // May 1, 2012 at 8:44 am

    CK: It was someone who thought changing their login information would allow them to post quicker as a newbie.

    Richie was contemplating a run for governor. But he didn’t run because, well, we all know he’s a disaster of a hot mess now. While it’s common knowledge that one of the reasons Williams selected Reeeechie as his running mate was his popularity in Eastern Kentucky (that didn’t work out so well), Reeeeeeeechie had spent a few months courting other potential gubernatorial candidates asking to be their running mate. At least one of them shared an email with me last year that involved Richie. Not sure if that’s how it went with David, though.

  • 21 Conservative Kentuckian // May 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Did you know that Richie Farmer and Tracy Farmer are distantly related? Don’t know that it’s pertinent, but I find it interesting.

  • 22 cneedy55 // May 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Only in Kentucky….how embarrassing…..
    Richie has lost the respect of all kentuckians