First of all, allow me to apologize for my extended absence from these pages. I’ve been in the beginning stages of a new job, and it’s taken until now for me to get time to write.
NOW–let’s get to the fun part! Two words. Richie Farmer.
Never in my professional lifetime have I seen an office-holder destroy a lifetime of goodwill and political capital in such a concentrated period of time. Granted George Bush The Elder managed to come close after his popularity plummeted following the first Gulf War, but Farmer’s implosion has been so spectacular, it forced me to return to the written word for now.
Farmer was, and still is many things to a lot of Kentuckians. Basketball icon and schoolboy idol of thousands spanning his high school and college career as a Kentucky Wildcat. So revered, that he was able to parlay the popularity into a political career that seemed to have a bright future. He won two terms as Agriculture Commissioner and led the GOP ticket in total votes each time he ran. Like him or not–the man had some sway over voters! He toyed with a run for Governor, but instead opted to run as the number-two man with Senate President David Williams. Alas the GOP team was trounced by Steve Beshear by 21 points. If things had stopped there, Farmer might still have a political career.
It all began to go south when it was reported he didn’t take the furlough days called for because he didn’t believe in furloughs, and would not participate. Now that is not entirely a bad thing since elected officials are technically exempt from furloughs. But, most other elected officials simply wrote a check for a days pay back to the state. Not Ritchie. In fact when he left the Ag Commissioner post he filed for unemployment. Uh–no–elected officials NOT ALLOWED! Yes it got out to the public–no it wasn’t handled well. Even this might not have been fatal to his political career because of the affection so many Kentuckians harbor for Farmer. Then came the audit.
Way too many bad things to mention right now were included in the report, but suffice to say he reported no gifts on his required filings and had no real explanation for the seven hunting rifles that he bought as gifts and are still missing. Oh I forgot. About 15 grand in tobacco settlement money is also unaccounted for. What does Ritchie’s lawyer say? Basically that he received gifts as a UK hoops icon and not as Ag Commish. Sorry, the law doesn’t see the difference so now the IRS and Attorney General are very interested in things, and as if things weren’t hilarious enough–Fish and Wildlife is also investigating because the commish reportedly shot a deer from his state owned vehicle, which is just flat illegal.
I’ve heard the great Paul Hornung say how blessed he has been in his life, and how grateful he is for what sports and life brought his way. Hornung has said he “Lived his life on scholarship.” Also true of Richie Farmer. From the day someone discovered he could dribble and hit a 20 foot pull-up jumper, his life has been a full-ride scholarship. Nothing wrong with that. Some people are rewarded for their skills, but to throw it all away from sheer stupidity, and what seems to be naked greed and graft is just despicable. Richie Farmer basically violated the trust of Kentuckians, and no one should be making excuses for that.