Kentucky’s new Agriculture Commissioner is asking the state Auditor to examine his department for past problems. The audit was formally requested Wednesday by Republican James Comer, who is in his sixth day on the job.
The audit will look for inefficiencies, waste and “possible corruption” during the eight years Richie Farmer was Agriculture Commissioner said new state Auditor, Adam Edelen, a Democrat.
Farmer, who ran unsuccessfully this past fall for Lt. Governor, was the subject of numerous media reports about questionable expenditures and hirings.
"Commissioner Farmer ought to welcome this audit,” said Edelen. “If he did nothing wrong, he has nothing to worry about."
"The scope of the audit is broad and I have advised department employees to be cooperative and forthcoming,” Comer said. The department he oversees is the state’s largest regulatory agency with a $29 million budget and 250 employees.
During his first week in office Comer fired 15 of Farmer’s political hires.
The auditor says the new Ag chief deserves a “clean slate.” "I'll credit Commissioner Comer with working with my office to do things other than sweep typical Frankfort things under the rug."
Neither of the two elected officials will say where the probe is headed.
“We will simply follow the facts where they take us,” Edelen said.
Comer says he has not spoken to Farmer since the Kentucky Farm Bureau Convention in early December.
Comer says he suspected during the fall campaign that an audit of the department was needed. Now that he’s in the job, he says he’s “100 percent confident” the examination is needed.