Richie Farmer

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Richie Farmer
Agriculture Commissioner of Kentucky
In office
2004 – January 1, 2012
Governor Ernie Fletcher
Steve Beshear
Preceded by Billy Ray Smith
Succeeded by James Comer
Personal details
Born Richard Dwight Farmer, Jr.
(1969-08-25) August 25, 1969 (age 44)
Manchester, Clay County, Kentucky, USA
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Rebecca Morgan-Farmer
Children Richard Dwight III ("Trey"), Thomas, and Tate Farmer
Alma mater University of Kentucky

Richard Dwight "Richie" Farmer, Jr. (born August 25, 1969), is a former Commissioner of Agriculture for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He is a former shooting guard for the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team, one of four seniors on the 1991 – 1992 lineup known as "The Unforgettables".

A Republican, Farmer formerly served as agriculture commissioner and was ineligible for reelection at the expiration of his term in 2012.[1] On September 1, 2010, Farmer announced he would run for lieutenant governor on a ticket with President of the Kentucky Senate David L. Williams in the 2011 gubernatorial election.[2] Williams and Farmer lost the election to incumbent governor Steve Beshear and his running mate, Jerry Abramson, the former mayor of Louisville.

Personal life[edit]

Farmer was born August 25, 1969 in Manchester in Clay County in southeastern Kentucky. He is the second of three children born to Richard and Virginia Farmer. He was married to Rebecca Morgan-Farmer of Hyden, Kentucky, and has three sons: Richard Dwight III ("Trey"), Thomas, and Tate. In April 2011, Rebecca Farmer filed for dissolution of her marriage from Richie Farmer in the Family Division of the Franklin Circuit Court, located in the state capital in Frankfort. The divorce was finalized in 2012.[3]

Basketball career[edit]

A jersey honoring Farmer hangs in Rupp Arena

Farmer was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky in 1988. He played shooting guard for the University of Kentucky from 1988 to 1992, where he posted career averages of 7.6 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game.[4] Farmer and fellow classmen Deron Feldhaus, Sean Woods, and John Pelphrey, became known as "The Unforgettables." Farmer's No. 32 and the jerseys of the other three players were retired.

Political career[edit]

In 1992, Farmer earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Kentucky with a double major in agricultural economics and agribusiness management.[5] He was elected Commissioner of Agriculture in the state of Kentucky in November 2003. In his 2007 reelection bid, he stamped himself as one of the future stars of the Kentucky Republican Party, when he won by a nearly 2-to-1 margin[6] while the incumbent Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher lost by 17 percentage points. Farmer and Trey Grayson, who won reelection as Secretary of State, became the first Republicans since 1915 to win statewide office in an election won by a Democratic gubernatorial candidate.[7] In his victory speech, Farmer promised to serve out his full term and remain a Republican; it had been widely rumored that he had been considering a party switch.[8]

On September 1, 2010, Farmer announced he would run for lieutenant governor on a ticket with state Senate President David L. Williams in the 2011 gubernatorial election.[2]

Controversies[edit]

The Louisville's Courier Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Farmer declined to participate in furloughs mandated by the Kentucky legislature in light of serious budget deficits. Kentucky's constitutional elected officials cannot deviate from their established salary, however, most have taken the lead of Governor Beshear and have written personal checks to the state for the portion of their salary that would have been affected by the furlough. WHAS 11 television in Louisville reported on April 10, 2011, that a spokesperson for Farmer said he "didn't believe in" furloughs, despite the fact that his agency's employees are subject to the legislative mandate.

Farmer was criticized for attempting to claim unemployment compensation after his term as Agriculture Commissioner ended. As an elected public official, Farmer is not eligible for such benefits.[5]

On April 30, 2012, an audit of Farmer's office, conducted by Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen's office at the request of Farmer's successor, James Comer, was released. The audit claims that Farmer used state employees on state time to run his personal errands, including taking him hunting, walking his dog, and building a basketball court in his backyard.[9] Based on the results of the audit, Farmer was administratively charged on March 18, 2013 by the Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission with forty-two counts of violating Kentucky ethics laws.[10]

On April 22, 2013, after an investigation by the FBI, Farmer was indicted by a federal grand jury on five felony counts of corruption charges that carries a sentence up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.[11] He is charged with misusing state funds to purchase gifts for visiting state agriculture commissioners at a national conference held in 2008. The indictment alleges that Farmer kept the leftover gifts, including customized Remington rifles, knives, watches, and personalized cigar boxes. The grand jury also accused Farmer of using agriculture department funds to secure the appointment of a girlfriend as a "special assistant".[12] In September 2013, Farmer plead guilty to two of the federal corruption charges.[13]

In addition, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway announced that Farmer will also plead guilty in Franklin Circuit Court of one count of violating Kentucky ethics laws. Farmer will then be sentenced to two years in federal prison and one year in state custody, with the sentences running concurrent to each other.[14] In addition to the criminal penalties, Farmer has also agreed to admit to the administrative charges leveled by the Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission. The Ethics Commission, while not officially releasing the terms of their agreement with Farmer until his plea agreement is approved by the courts, did state that the fine will be larger than $20,000, which was the largest penalty issued by the commission up to that point [15]

On March 25, 2014, Farmer reported to the United States Penitentiary, Hazelton satellite camp in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia to serve a 27 month sentence.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alford, Roger (2009-10-28). "Farmer mulls run for governor". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  2. ^ a b Brammer, Jack (2010-09-02). "David Williams and Richie Farmer form slate to seek state's top offices". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  3. ^ "Richie Farmer and ex-wife testify at child-support hearing". Lexington Herald-Leader. Sep 13, 2012. Retrieved Mar 26, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Richie Famer Career Statistics". BigBlueHistory.com. 
  5. ^ a b "Commissioner's Corner". Kentucky Department of Agriculture. 
  6. ^ Hall, Gregory A. (2007-11-06). "Farmer re-elected agriculture commissioner". The Courier-Journal (Louisville). Retrieved 2007-11-06. [dead link]
  7. ^ Alessi, Ryan (2007-11-06). "What’s next: GOP looks beyond sobering night". Lexington Herald-Leader. Archived from the original on 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  8. ^ Patton, Janet and Brammer, Jack (2007-11-06). "Farmer easily retains post as ag commissioner". Lexington Herald-Leader. Archived from the original on 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  9. ^ "Richie Farmer used state workers to run personal errands, audit says". Courier Journal. 30 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Brammer, Jack (18 March 2013). "Richie Farmer charged with 42 counts of violating Kentucky ethics laws". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  11. ^ Musgrave, Beth (22 April 2013). "Grand jury indicts former Kentucky Agriculture Secretary Richie Farmer". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Former Kentucky star Farmer indicted". foxsports.msn.com. Retrieved April 24, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Richie Farmer faces prison time". Associated Press. Sep 13, 2013. Retrieved Sep 13, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Plea deal could land Farmer in prison for 2 years". The Independent. 5 September 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  15. ^ Ethics Commission: Farmer's plea deal 'the largest they've seen'
  16. ^ "Richie Farmer reports to prison". WDRB. Mar 25, 2014. Retrieved Mar 26, 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Robbie Rudolph
Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky
2011
Succeeded by
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