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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Richie Farmer's Saga Continues, As His Sister Resigns Her Post At Kentucky Registry Of Election Finance.

Richie Farmer's sister resigns post at Kentucky Registry of Election Finance

FRANKFORT, KY. — Rhonda Monroe, the sister of former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, has resigned as assistant executive director of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.
Monroe was placed on paid leave by the registry on March 19 — a day after she and Farmer were charged by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission with filing false documents that allowed Farmer to claim excess expenses from his 2007 re-election campaign fund.

Records obtained by The Courier-Journal Tuesday in response to an Open Records Act request show that Monroe submitted her resignation May 15 and it was effective the following day.
In her letter to registry Executive Director Sarah Jackson and Chairman Craig Dilger, Monroe said, “To follow up on previous communications, I am writing to provide my formal resignation.”
Monroe, who had been at the Registry since January 2005, did not give a reason in the letter for her resigning the $77,931-per-year job. And she said in the letter, “While this break in service may be necessary at this time, I remain hopeful of future opportunities for similar personal and professional advancement.”
Jackson responded with a letter telling Monroe her resignation was “accepted ... due to a pending investigation into alleged misconduct.”
Monroe’s attorney, James Deckard, did not return phone messages Tuesday.

In March the ethics commission charged Monroe with three counts, and Farmer with a record 42 counts, of violating the state ethics code. If later found guilty by the commission, each count is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.
Farmer’s charges allege a broad range of instances where the commission alleges he put his personal interests above the public interest during his 2004-11 tenure as state agriculture commissioner. Since his ethics charges, Farmer has been indicted by a federal grand jury on four counts of misappropriating funds and one count of soliciting a bribe. He has pleaded not guilty.

The three ethics counts against Monroe alleged she used her position as a high-ranking state campaign finance official to help her brother tap his 2007 re-election campaign fund with phony expense claims.
The charges allege Monroe provided her brother with receipts for her own personal expenses and then guided him on how to submit them to his campaign for reimbursement. The charges also allege she later helped him deceive auditors from the agency where she worked by drafting a misleading letter that her brother gave the auditors.

The ethics charges prompted the registry to place Monroe on leave while its attorney conducted its own investigation of the matter. Dilger said the investigative report was to be completed before the end of May. With Monroe’s continued employment at the registry no longer an issue, Dilger said the report’s focus will shift to whether policies and practices of the registry need to be strengthened.

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