The Exasperating Richie Farmer
Outgoing Commissioner of Agriculture Richie Farmer did not hold up to the microscope of top-of-the ticket campaign.
The laundry list of ethical failures that surfaced during the campaign was fairly incredible:
- Bought his department a fleet of new vehicles in a time of budget cuts including a new $35,000 Chevy Suburban for himself.
- Refused to forgo any salary as every other state employee has been furloughed for six days and other constitutional officers have forfeited salary.
- Billed the state for a $359 per night hotel room for four nights in Lexington instead of returning to his home 28 miles away in Frankfort.
Each decision gave the impression that he is completely unconcerned about appropriate use of the taxpayer's dollar.
Today we learn that he isn't just passively unconcerned, but belligerently, recklessly unethical.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer hired his girlfriend as a "special assistant" in his department during the waning days of the 2011 gubernatorial campaign, in which he was a candidate for lieutenant governor.
According to the state Personnel Cabinet, Stephanie L. Sandmann was hired as a non-merit employee in the Department of Agriculture, to start work on Oct. 31, and is earning $5,000 a month, equal to $60,000 a year.
Typically, a candidate has to win the Governor's race and be sworn in before he finds out that his running mate is trouble. David Williams didn't even get to that stage:
But Senate President David Williams, Farmer's running mate, confirmed Thursday that Sandmann is Farmer's girlfriend and said he had no idea Farmer had put her on the state's payroll eight days before the Nov. 8 election. He said he met her while on the campaign trail with Farmer.
"She told me she worked for a gynecologist," said Williams, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor.
It stinks whenever a public official puts themselves ahead of the taxpayer. It is disappointing that the media in Kentucky never seems interested in holding Democrats accountable for similar actions. Anyone with any commonsense would be able to advise Mr. Farmer that his actions are wrong, wrong and wrong.
Which is the most putrid part -- he clearly does not care that he is wrong. He clearly does not care that he embarrasses an entire slate of candidates, an entire political party.
He does not care that he is creating challenges for the new commissioner before he is even sworn in.
Richie Farmer clearly does not know right from wrong.
Let us hope never to hear from him again.