This morning, Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen released the findings of his special examination into Richie Farmer’s handling of the Department of Agriculture during his term, which he says shows “a toxic culture of entitlement and self-dealing at Kentucky taxpayers’ expense.” Edelen will be referring the report to the Kentucky Attorney General, Executive Branch Ethics Commission, IRS, Kentucky Department of Revenue, Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Personnel Board. “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.” Farmer refused to be interviewed by the auditor’s office. I assume Farmer’s lawyers will be the one’s doing the talking now. So… will Attorney General Jack Conway pursue this further, or is it politically dangerous to put an “Unforgettable” in jail? We’ll find out ...Read on for the best list of findings outside the full report. Page One has an informed take:
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: SNIP 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.And it wasn't just money. There were casualties. Barefoot and Progressive before the audit report cam out:
It seems like Richie Farmer’s time as Ag. Commissioner, with its lavish parties and missing rifles, is going to continue providing fodder for Herald-Leader investigative journalists well into the next decade. Here’s the hilarity in today’s paper:B&P also rejects the compliments being showered on Ritchie's successor for requesting the audit and acting expeditiously to implement recommended changes.A distant relative of former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer worked in the Department of Agriculture for nearly five years as an amusement ride inspector despite never receiving certification to do the work. George “Doug” Begley worked from July 1, 2007, to March 12 inspecting amusement park rides in Eastern Kentucky, according to documents obtained by the Lexington Herald-Leader under the state’s Open Records Act. Documents in Begley’s personnel file show he voluntarily accepted a demotion to the department’s fuel-testing division in March after Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who took office in January, discovered that Begley never received his certification.There’s something comical about the pettiness of cousin George Doug not getting a certification that would have probably been easy for him to get and that the state would have paid for. Richie Farmer’s corruption was mostly just laughs. Well, until somebody lost a foot.A Louisville teen’s feet were severed after she was hurt on a ride at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in 2007. The park closed in 2009. Begley, who worked out of Breathitt County and inspected rides in that area, could not be reached for comment.
I get the strong sense that Jamie Comer is, if not encouraging these stories, at least rooting for them because they show a lack of continuity between the two Republicans. Next to Richie Farmer, he looks like a high-minded reformer. But make no mistake, Jamie Comer is a right-wing son of a bitch who voted against felon re-enfranchisement, against providing HPV vaccinations to girls, and against equal pay for equal work for women when he was a state rep. Expect him to run for something fancier in 2014 or 2015 on his record of cleaning up Richie Farmer’s mess and expect a lot of Democrats to talk about how he’s a good man.Yes, of course Ritchie's a republican.