Cox out at Agriculture Department; Fuel lab shutdown completed

05/16/2013 04:14 PM

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer on Thursday announced the complete shut down of Richie Farmer’s cash-losing fuel lab as well as the departure of Deputy Commissioner Larry Cox, who had been heading up the lab’s closure.

As announced in April the fuel testing will continue via a private laboratory at a $600,000 savings to taxpayers.

A press release from the Department of Agriculture announced Larry Cox would return to retirement on Thursday.

He served in the department before as executive director for the office of consumer and environmental protection before he took over the role as deputy director after Bruce Harper was let go amid charges by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

“Larry came on board to help guide us through a difficult period,” Comer said in the release. “His experience was an invaluable asset to this office. We knew we only had him temporarily, but he achieved every goal I set out for him, and he leaves this office in great condition.”

Still, Comer had named Cox as the agency’s deputy director on April 3 — just 43 days before Cox announced his return to retirement.

Benson Bell, a division director under Cox, will take over as executive director of consumer and environmental protection. Comer has no immediate plans to fill the deputy commissioner position, the press release said.

As for the fuel lab, about $3.1 million in equipment from the fuel lab is scheduled to be auctioned off by the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet’s surplus property division.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or


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