Web Osi Speaks!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Richie Farmer's Shameful Ethics Saga Shows "Why Elections Matter".

  Richie Farmer shows why elections matter

The moment he stepped up to speak to the crowd on a sweltering summer day in 2003 at Fancy Farm, the annual Kentucky political season kickoff, it was pretty clear Richie Farmer wasn’t much qualified to be Kentucky agriculture commissioner.

Mr. Farmer, a former high school Mr. Basketball, spoke mostly about his glory days as a University of Kentucky sports star and the thrill of playing basketball at Rupp Arena as reasons people should vote for him.

And the voters of Kentucky promptly elected him to not one but two terms as agriculture commissioner, largely based on his huge popularity as one of the legendary UK basketball “Unforgettables.”

Once a rising star in the state Republican Party, Mr. Farmer has achieved a new level of stardom — in eight years of office, he has managed to rack up an astonishing 42 accusations of ethics violations, the most ever returned against an official since the Executive Branch Ethics Commission was created in 1992.

Mr. Farmer’s alleged misdeeds ranged from petty — ordering his staff to drive his dog around — to breathtakingly brazen.

The ethics charges allege that as agriculture commissioner, he improperly accepted a treasure trove of gifts including hunting rifles, watches and knives; and treated staff as personal servants, ordering them to cut his grass, take him shopping and hunting and build a basketball court in his back yard.

They even had to drive his dog from the state fair to Farmer’s Frankfort home, the charges allege.

Also, according to the charges, he put his girlfriend on the payroll (for no apparent work), schemed for excessive expense payments, helped himself to state equipment including laptop computers and filing cabinets and sold, at a profit, tickets he obtained for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.

In all, it appears to have been an orgy of wretched excess where Mr. Farmer treated a state taxpayer-financed agency he was elected to run as his personal slush fund.

Voters, do you sense a message here? Elections have consequences.

Electing Mr. Farmer was no service to him or the state he was supposed to serve.

The consequences have been disastrous and embarrassing for Kentucky and Mr. Farmer, whose tenure as agriculture commissioner will be as unforgettable as his basketball career — except for all the wrong reasons.

Mr. Farmer will have a chance to contest the ethics violations. His lawyer denies any wrongdoing by Mr. Farmer and expects to provide a “vigorous defense” of his client.
But the ethics charges follow a very damaging report by state Auditor Adam Edelen last year that cited many issues found in the ethics charges.

Voters should take note and remember that at every level, elections matter.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home