Attorney for Richie Farmer calls audit 'very political and self-serving'

jbrammer@herald-leader.comApril 30, 2012 

Guthrie True spoke on Monday, April 30,2012 at his law office in Frankfort, Ky. True, attorney for Richie Farmer, reponded to questions after State Auditor Adam Edelen released the Department of Agriculture special examination, finding former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer misused state resources and state employees for personal benefit. Photo by David Perry | Staff

HERALD-LEADER

FRANKFORT — A 151-page audit of former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer's administration was "very political and self-serving," Farmer's attorney, Guthrie True, said Monday.

"I don't see anything in this audit report that any law-enforcement agency is going to be excited about," True said at a news conference in his Frankfort office.

True's comments came just minutes after Democratic state Auditor Adam Edelen and Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer released the scathing report.

True implied that Edelen and Comer might be using the audit to bolster possible bids for governor someday.

"My experience practicing law here in Frankfort is that every other body on the street here would like to be governor," True said.

Comer and Edelen, who shook hands twice during their news conference and mentioned their spirit of cooperation, said they focused on facts, not politics. Both took office in January.

Comer said he has not suffered any political repercussions for seeking the audit of a fellow Republican.

"It's been very positive, almost 100 percent of support of what we are doing," said Comer, a former state representative from Tompkinsville. "This is what Republicans stand for, in my opinion: good government, transparent government, accountable government — and we are going to provide that."

Edelen quickly said, "that's what we all want."

Farmer, who was agriculture commissioner for eight years and ran last year for lieutenant governor on the unsuccessful ticket of Republican Senate President David Williams, was not available to comment on the audit.

Williams said via email that the audit "speaks for itself."

He commended Comer and Edelen for their cooperation but said he hopes Edelen "applies the same rigor and high standards to every executive agency he has the responsibility to inspect."

True said the audit is "pretty much what we expected."

"They picked through everything possible to criticize," he said. "I think that was the intent at the outset when the new agriculture commissioner asked for the audit, and it was the intent when the new auditor took up the challenge."

True said Farmer was given "little opportunity for meaningful input" into the audit.

He said Farmer asked to review and comment on the audit but his request was denied.

"It's unfair, but that's politics," the attorney said.

Edelen said his team of auditors attempted to interview Farmer, but he declined.

True released an April 10, 2012, letter he sent to the auditor's office explaining why Farmer declined an "anything and everything" interview but might respond to a draft copy of the audit results.

True said he had little time to read the final audit and could not comment on all its findings.

When asked about the allegation that Farmer illegally shot a deer while in a state vehicle and had a state employee field-dress it, True responded: "It sounds like he's an excellent shot."

True said Farmer is unemployed but "doing well."

"His frame of mind has been good," he said. "He's been very anxious to see today come and to get this behind him."

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.

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