Richie Farmer says he has 'no regrets' about hotel, state fair spending

04/28/2011 12:25 PM

LOUISVILLE — Appearing at the kick-off event for a statewide primary bus tour, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer defended travel expenses he billed to the state as the state’s top agricultural official.

Farmer, who is the running mate for Senate President David Williams and is running on a GOP gubernatorial slate with Williams, said he has “no regrets” for spending $359 a night for a hotel suite in Lexington during the high school boys’ basketball tournament or for spending more than $7,000 during the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville.

He appeared at both events to promote the Kentucky Proud program as Agriculture Commissioner.

The Herald-Leader first reported the amount of Farmer’s spending at the state fair on Thursday. And both the Herald-Leader and Courier-Journal first reported on the spending during the Sweet 16 in March last weekend.

Williams also defended Farmer’s spending at both sites while taking questions at a forum in Northern Kentucky on Tuesday, as Pure Politics reported.

Farmer lives in Frankfort, less than one hour from both cities, but said his department has gotten “more bang for their buck” because of those stays.

Farmer also said despite multiple news stories in the last year detailing his expenses and spending as agriculture commissioner, he has not considered leaving the Williams-Farmer ticket.

And in a follow-up interview with reporters, Williams further defended Farmer saying he has spent less on travel than his predecessors. And he said Farmer couldn’t win with some people who will criticize Farmer for not showing up sometimes and doing too much other places.

Williams also took a shot at the Democratic slate for governor, made up of current Gov. Steve Beshear and former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, saying that Abramson has just as many, if not more, questions about his time as mayor than Farmer does as agriculture commissioner.

Williams referred to questions from the Republican Party of Kentucky. The party issued a statement Thursday questioning Abramson for hiring of a special assistant for an $85,000 position that required little work while Abramson was mayor of Louisville. That was first revealed in a Courier-Journal article in March.

Williams and Farmer were in Louisville to kick off a statewide bus tour, “The lead, follow or get out of the way” tour at the Jefferson County Republican Party headquarters.

They face two other Republican tickets, Louisville businessman Phil Moffett and state Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw and Louisville teacher Bill Vermillion, in the May 17 GOP primary for governor. The winner of the primary will face Beshear and Abramson and Independent slate Gatewood Galbraith and Dea Riley during the fall election.

_Watch Pure Politics on Friday to see more about the Williams-Farmer bus tour in our campaign week in review. On Thursday, Pure Politics sits down with both Republican candidates for auditor for a 30 minute debate. _


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