Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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April 22, 2013

Farmer indicted on felony fraud charges

(Continued)

FRANKFORT —

Farmer was at one time perhaps the most publicly popular politician in the state after his basketball career that included a state championship and playing on a beloved UK team known as “The Unforgettables.”

He easily won election twice as Agriculture Commissioner and some thought he might someday be a candidate for governor. But in 2011, Farmer agreed to run as a candidate for lieutenant governor on the Republican slate of state Senate President David Williams who lost badly to incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

Early in the campaign, Farmer’s wife sued him for divorce and a number of newspaper accounts questioned several spending and hiring decisions during his tenure as Agriculture Commissioner.

After Republican James Comer won election as Farmer’s successor at KDA, he asked newly elected Democratic Auditor Adam Edelen to conduct a review of Farmer’s administration. About a year ago, Edelen issued a report describing a “toxic culture of entitlement” at the KDA, and he said the report was turned over to law enforcement agencies.

In March of this year, the Executive Branch Ethics Commission issued 42 charges of ethics violation against Farmer as well.

True said he didn’t know if any other state agencies might also be preparing charges against Farmer. One of the ethics charges alleges Farmer used the help of his sister, Rhonda Monroe, an employee of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, to make fraudulent expense claims against campaign funds which would be a state violation.

Allison Martin, spokeswoman for Attorney General Jack Conway, issued a statement Monday afternoon in response to questions from reporters.

“Investigators from the Office of the Attorney General worked with federal authorities on this case, which resulted in today’s indictments. Beyond that, it would be inappropriate to comment further on a criminal investigation, “Martin said.

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