Time and travel concerns
The exam identifies three findings related to timesheet and travel abuses by employees who had close relationships with Farmer.
A former employee, who was commonly known as a hometown friend of the former commissioner, was paid $70,457 for work hours and travel miles for which, apparently, no known work was produced.
An amusement safety inspector, who is a cousin of Farmer’s former spouse, appears to have received pay and the use of a state vehicle when no department-related work was performed. On one occasion, he drove 269 miles over 10.5 hours for an assignment that should’ve spanned 146 miles and lasted just three hours. In addition, a GPS device that had been installed to monitor his usage of the vehicle may have been tampered with to stop it from functioning.
No significant work can be confirmed for a non-merit employee who had a documented personal relationship with Farmer. In addition, he signed her timesheets after the former chief of staff refused due to his inability to personally attest to the work being performed by her.
The exam documents seven findings related to personnel, including pre-selecting candidates for merit positions, rewarding bonuses without justification and retaliating against an employee.
Timesheets for four non-merit special assistants were not signed by a supervisor with direct oversight of their work and the employees were given limited or no specific job duties. In one instance, a supervisor refused to sign timesheets due to lack of work product. These four special assistants were paid for 683 hours in compensatory time approved by the former personnel director, who had no knowledge of their work.
Fourteen findings relating to management and operations in the department are identified in the exam.
A former executive director and former director told staff to delay action against a grain dealer because it was during an election year and could cause a negative political outcome for Farmer.
A $1.65 million fuel-testing lab that was projected to test 20,000 samples a year has not met its goal and lost the state more than $744,000 in fiscal year 2011.
Roughly half the department’s employees had permanently assigned take-home vehicles. Many of the employees were not justified in having state vehicles.
The exam also identified issues with the reporting of taxable benefits to the IRS and Kentucky Department of Revenue, ProCard administration, home internet costs, and more.
Born in Clay County, Farmer worked as an investment advisor, after graduating from University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Management.
The full report can be viewed on the auditor's website (auditor.ky.gov).
AUDITOR: Richie Farmer fostered "toxic culture of entitlement"
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