Video Highlights: Edelen explains Ag Audit; Richie Farmer's attorney responds

04/30/2012 03:30 PM

Among the mountain of charges levied against former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer Monday includes allegations that former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer’s chief of staff refused to sign paychecks for Farmer’s girlfriend because he couldn’t verify the work was done.

State Auditor Adam Edelen said the task of holding Farmer accountable for his action was a grim one. “The sheer volume and recklessness of abuses shock the conscience,” Edelen said of the audit.

Among the abuses the audit lists are that Farmer directed state employees to take him hunting and shopping, mow his lawn, build him a basketball court in his backyard, and chauffeur his dog.

He also said an employee told auditors that Farmer illegally shooting a deer out of season from the cab of a state vehicle and then directed a state employee to field dress the deer for him.

“No significant work can be confirmed for a non-merit employee with a documented personal relationship with the former commissioner,” Edelen said of the work performed by Farmer’s girlfriend Stephanie Sandmann. “In addition the former commissioner personally signed her time sheets because his chief of staff refused to do so sighting his inability to attest to the work being performed by her.”

Current Agriculture Commissioner James Comer called for the audit upon taking office and said the agency and its employees can start fresh.

Richie Farmer did not submit to an interview with auditors, but his lawyer Guthrie True took time Monday to dismiss the report saying the report was politically motivated.


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