Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


March 20, 2013

Fined $210,000

Allegations of misdeeds as commissioner plague Farmer

ASHLAND — If the 2011 gubernatorial election had gone as the Kentucky Republican Party had hoped, former Senate President David Williams would be governor and former two-term Agricultural Commissioner Richie Farmer would be lieutenant governor.

But it was not to be. The team of Williams and Farmer lost in a landslide as Gov. Steve Beshear coasted to victory, with former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson replacing former state Sen. Dan Mongiardo of Hazard as lieutenant governor.

Williams, then the most powerful Republican in Frankfort, resigned from his Senate seat when Beshear appointed him a circuit court  judge in southern Kentucky. His acceptance of the judicial seat essentially removed Williams as a significant political force in Kentucky.

But Williams’ rapid fall from political power was voluntary. Had he not accepted the appointment of a governor with whom he had had numerous political disagreements, there is no question David Williams still would be directing Republicans in the Senate.

However, the rapid fall from grace of Richie Farmer since his term ended as agriculture commissioner has not been voluntary. It has largely been self-inflicted, with one of his chief critics being James Comer, his Republican successor as agriculture commissioner. Soon after taking office, Comer requested then newly elected Democratic Auditor Adam Edelen investigate numerous complaints Comer said he received about Farmer’s eight years at ag commissioner. The audit was scathing and likely ended any future Farmer, a former University of Kentucky basketball star, may have had in state politics.

In the latest chapter in the saga of Richie Farmer, the Executive Branch Ethics Commission has charged the former agriculture commissioner with 42 ethics violations for misusing state funds and state employees during his time in office.

The charges, announced by the ethics commission on Monday, include Farmer placing his friends in jobs that had no specified duties and asking them to carry out his personal errands. He allegedly had employees chauffeur him to doctors’ appointments and shopping trips as well as build a basketball court on his property.   

Just before leaving office, Farmer, who was going through a rather nasty divorce but was still married, gave his girlfriend a high-paying job for which she had not apparent qualifications. Hers was one of many jobs Comer eliminated soon after becoming ag commissioner.

Farmer faces a $5,000 fine for each count, which amounts to $210,000, but last year, Farmer filed a motion for a change in his child support payments claiming he has no regular source of income. Based on that, the odds of the fine ever being paid are not promising.

Seven employees who worked with Farmer also face ethics charges. And the commission issued an advisory opinion stating employees must report suspected ethics violations.

During his eight years in Frankfort, few knew exactly what Richie Farmer did as agriculture commissioner. We now know we should have all been paying more attention to the well-liked former basketball star and the department he headed. If we had, maybe some of the mismanagement and wastful spending under Farmer could have been avoided. As it is, Farmer was basically given a free ride through two terms.

Should Farmer face criminal charges? That’s not for us to decide, but we do know this: He should never again be elected to any office.

Text Only
  • Positive trend

    For those adults who have a low opinion of American teenagers, Uncle Sam’s latest study of worrisome behavior among teens provides some good news: Teens are smoking less, drinking less and fighting less. Most forms of drug use, weapons use and risky sex also are declining — and have been since 1991, the year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first started surveying teens about  their behavior.

    July 24, 2014

  • Research's value

    In pushing for a higher education reform bill in the late 1990s, former Gov. Paul Patton set an ambitious goal of having the University of Kentucky become a Top 20 research university by 2020. UK has yet to accomplish that goal, but UK and the University of Louisville both have made great advances in research in recent years.

    July 24, 2014

  • Deadline is near

    People with Kentucky driver’s licenses may soon be required to show a passport or some other accepted form of federal identification to enter “restricted” or “semi-restricted” areas of federal facilities, including federal courthouses, military bases, federal prisons and a wide range of other federal offices.

    July 23, 2014

  • Issue is safety

    The Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control has recommended softball  “players at first base, third base and pitcher utilize the permissive requirement in the playing rules and wear face/head protection.”

    July 23, 2014

  • More difficult

    In a state like Kentucky with the number of adults who have not graduated from high school is much higher than the national average, undereducated adults have been encouraged to earn high-school equivalency degrees by studying for, taking and passing the General Educational Development (GED) test.

    May 22, 2014

  • Primary election sends messages

    The voters — or at least the minority who took the time to go to the polls Tuesday — have spoken, with Boyd County voters sending mixed messages in the county-wide races that gathered the most attention.

    May 21, 2014

  • Click it or Ticket

    "Click it or Ticket” is a phrase used so often in recent years most of us hardly give it a thought.

    May 21, 2014

  • Top trooper

    Thumbs up to Trooper First Class Shane Goodall of Flatwoods for being named 2013 Trooper of the Year for Kentucky.

    May 20, 2014

  • 05/18/2014 — This Week in the Tri-State

    Local news

    May 18, 2014

  • 0518greene.jpeg Greene-Lounsberry

    John and Eva Greene of Greenup are proud to announce the engagement of their daughter, Stacey Nicole Greene, to Jonathan Wesley Lounsberry.

    May 18, 2014 1 Photo