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Frankfort Local News

Richie Farmer’s Attorney Calls Audit “Political and Self-Serving”

An audit of former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer’s administration has revealed multiple abuses of state resources.

The report says the former University of Kentucky basketball star illegally hired friends and family, used department resources for Christmas gifts and made state employees mow his yard and build a basketball court at his home on state time.

Farmer did not interview for the audit. His attorney, Guthrie True, calls the report a political stunt by two men, State Auditor Adam Edelen and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who hope to have long political futures.

“My response is I think in a lot of ways we’re going to find that the audit itself is a very political and self-serving audit. It’s pretty much what we expected,” True said in his Frankfort office.

Edelen says it appears several of Farmer’s actions were illegal, and the law doesn’t make exceptions for basketball greats.

“The responsibility for holding accountable a man I once cheered as a kid is a grim one. But the law makes no distinction between icons and the rest of us and neither do I,” Edelen says.

Both Edelen, a Democrat and Comer, a Republican like Farmer, were united in their blame of Farmer for many of the problems at the department. Comer says when he interviewed all Ag Department employees during his transition, his team determined morale was at an all-time low. And Edelen says that many employees said they felt if they did not go along with the abuses, they would be fired from their jobs. Edelen says the workplace under Farmer was hostile, and it appears Farmer violated the law. The report has been sent to state and federal law enforcement agencies.

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Frankfort Local News

Audit Uncovers Richie Farmer’s Rampant Abuse of State Funds, Employees

An audit of Richie Farmer’s two terms as Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner has revealed a toxic culture of entitlement and an extravagant misuse of taxpayer dollars, state employees and time.

Current Agriculture Commissioner James Comer requested the audit earlier this year. State Auditor Adam Edelen released his final report today, showing more than a dozen infractions by Farmer and a consistent abuse of state law.

Auditors found that Farmer “called a merit employee who was attending a training course at a local university and directed him to drive him to an outdoor sportsman’s store in Indiana. In another, he reportedly directed an employee to drive him to hunt. The former commissioner reportedly shot a deer from his state-issued vehicle and directed the employee to bag it for him.”

“The law makes no distinction between icons and the rest of us, and neither do I,” Edelen says in the statement. “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.”

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Frankfort Local News

Kentucky Lawmakers Urge Inclusion of Tobacco in Pacific Trade Agreement

Kentucky lawmakers are protesting a current trade agreement that they say would hurt tobacco.

The U.S. is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which includes countries like New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam. But the lawmakers say the proposal excludes tobacco protections.

At a news conference in Frankfort today, Democratic and Republican lawmakers urged President Barack Obama to add provisions for tobacco to the agreement.

Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says including the crop will help Kentucky farmers.

“What we have to be able to do with tobacco is the same thing we’re doing with corn and beef cattle and horses in Kentucky,” Comer says. “We have to grow our export market. In order to do that we have to make sure tobacco is treated fairly along with every other crop in the United States in trade agreements.”