Ky. should be outraged at Farmer's 'royal system' and hiring 'political hack' as a regulator, auditor says

05/02/2012 04:59 PM

Following up on the revealing audit of the Agriculture Department under former commissioner Richie Farmer, state Auditor Adam Edelen said he was perhaps most personally offended by an unqualified “political hack” in charge of regulating amusement rides.

“I’ve got two little boys, twin six-year old sons … it outrages me to think that a political hack — because he has a personal relationship with the commissioner — would be put in a job that could literally jeopardize the lives of kids,” Edelen said on Tuesday’s edition of Pure Politics. “It is outrageous.”

(5:30 of the interview) Edelen pointed to the amusement ride inspector who went years without the proper certification and who drove from London to Winchester via Manchester, Lexington and Wilmore and billing the state for a 10 1/2 hour work day for 17 minutes worth of work.

Edelen’s audit outlined thousands of dollars of gifts and perks Farmer took from the department, including directing employees to take him hunting, build a basketball court at his home and drive his dog around.

“I don’t like bullies. And I don’t like people who have power who abuse those who do not. So the alleged use of state employees to run errands for him — it was a royal system,” Edelen said (0:55).

Edelen discussed Farmer’s alleged abuse of the merit system (2:00); “toxic culture” in the department that created “enablers” for Farmer and “the intimidated” (3:00); why Farmer didn’t submit to an interview for the audit (7:40); and responded to Farmer’s attorney who called the audit was “political and self-serving” (9:00)

As to what didn’t make it into the 151-page report, Edelen said the investigation didn’t leave the department, for instance touching on any aspects of last year’s governor’s race in which Farmer ran for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket (11:15).

“We didn’t go an inch beyond the facts … I refuse to be some sort of Ken Starr-like prosecutor who began to just question and run down every rumor,” he said (4:05). “We only included in this report allegations that were documented by multiple individuals or where we could corroborate them with other documentation.”

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