FRANKFORT — Former University of Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer has started selling cars at two dealerships in Manchester, his first job after eight years as state agriculture commissioner.
Tim Short, owner of Tim Short Chevrolet and Tim Short Chrysler, said Thursday was the first day on the job for the UK sports icon who used his athletic celebrity as a springboard into state politics.
Farmer's political career was interrupted last year when he lost a bid for lieutenant governor. Since then, Farmer has gone through a high-profile divorce and has been lambasted by the state auditor for his management of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
Short said he's excited to have Farmer on his sales staff.
"We think he brings a lot to the table," Short said. "He's got a lot of family and friends and fans, and we think he can bring a lot to the team. So we're really excited about it."
Farmer didn't return phone messages Thursday.
Farmer, who was first a star at Clay County High School in Manchester, played on the legendary 1992 University of Kentucky basketball team dubbed "The Unforgettables." He breezed through two elections for agriculture commissioner but lost the race for lieutenant governor on a ticket with former Senate President David Williams.
Farmer, who underwent hip replacement surgery in September, had asked a Franklin County judge to temporarily reduce his $1,227 monthly child support payments until he recovered. He said during a court hearing that he had been unable to find a job since his $110,000-a-year position as agriculture commissioner ended in January.
Franklin County Circuit Judge Squire Williams allowed Farmer to forgo the payments for two months while he recuperated.
Farmer said during the child support hearing that questions about his management at the Department of Agriculture had made it difficult for him to find a job.
A team of state auditors described "a toxic culture of entitlement" within the Kentucky Department of Agriculture during Farmer's administration. They reported finding evidence that suggested Farmer had misused state funds, property and employees.