Farmer defends hiring of girlfriend as necessary, will talk to Comer about personnel retention

12/01/2011 02:27 PM

LOUISVILLE — Outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer is defending the hiring of his girlfriend Stephanie L. Sandmann as necessary in the wake of an assistant taking medical leave recently.

The Courier-Journal first reported the hire of Sandmann as a special assistant in Farmer’s office at a salary of $5,000 a month over the last 60 days of his administration.

But Farmer told Pure Politics that his office is understaffed and that all non-merit hiring in Frankfort is based on who the official knows, which is why Sandmann received the job.

Farmer also blamed the reports as part of a “slow news day.”

Farmer, who is leaving office as Agriculture Commissioner because he is constitutional term limited, said he has not talked to Agriculture Commissioner-elect James Comer about having a role in Comer’s administration.

He said that after serving as commissioner for eight years, he could give Comer’s advice on important issues.

Farmer said he plans to talk with Comer soon about the office, including possibly lobbying Comer to keep some of his political appointees. Farmer did not specify which non-merit employees he would like Comer to retain.

As for his future, Farmer said he has not yet made a decision on what his next step will be.

-Reporting and video production by Kenny Colston

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