Richie Farmer's bumpy ride on the road to Kentucky lieutenant governor continues.
Facing relatively more scrutiny as David Williams' running mate than as agriculture commissioner, Farmer is now under fire for billing taxpayers nearly $1600 for his four night stay in Lexington during the boys basketball Sweet 16 tournament in March.
As the Lexington Herald-Leader's Jack Brammer reports, Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Daniel Logsdon is criticizing Farmer for staying at the Lexington Hilton though he lives less than 30 miles away, in Frankfort.
"Richie Farmer needs to do the right thing, admit that this was a horrible way to spend the people’s money and reimburse the state for this hotel stay," Logsdon said in a statement.
Farmer is making no apologies for the expenditure and contends that his long days at the tournament were part of his continued emphasis on a program that promotes Kentucky agriculture.
"Our promotional strategy within Kentucky Proud is obviously working and I do spend a tremendous amount of time making appearances for the program," Farmer said in a statement.
In August, the agriculture department used the same reasoning to defend Farmer's purchase of 19 new ag department SUV's, including one for his own use, during state cutbacks.
Farmer, one of the University of Kentucky basketball program's "Unforgettables" in the early 1990's, is an extremely popular figure across the Commonwealth. His importance to the Republican ticket is underscored by the suggestion of a basketball in the logo of the Williams/Farmer campaign.
Farmer has also been fodder for other headlines in the last month:
Earlier this month, the WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll showed the Williams/Farmer ticket dominating the Republican primary field, yet trailing the Beshear/Abramson ticket in the general election. The poll, however, did not factor in the independent candidacy of Gatewood Galbraith.