Update, December 1, 2015, 6:00 p.m.: Due to a correction to the data in another state, Kentucky's rank has changed to tied for 9th overall.
A month after starting to investigate Kentucky’s Agriculture Department, state Auditor Adam Edelen called a meeting for his team to update each other on the transgressions of ex-Ag Commissioner Richie Farmer.
Auditors took turns sharing revelations at that February 2012 get-together about how Farmer, a former University of Kentucky basketball hero, ordered his agency’s employees to build a basketball court in his backyard. He had them drive him on hunting trips so he could shoot deer from the passenger window. Dating back to 2004, he stocked his agency’s personnel ranks with relatives, cronies and, just before his term expired, his girlfriend. And Farmer, the auditors found, used public funds on unnecessary hotel stays, Christmas gifts and laptops, refrigerators and Remington rifles that disappeared from the department.
“A lot of jaws dropped,” Edelen said of that meeting.
Farmer was sentenced in January 2014 to 27 months in federal prison for violating ethics and personnel laws. The fact that his indiscretions went unchecked for most of the eight years he spent in office is emblematic of why Kentucky earned a grade of D+ in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, an assessment of state government accountability and transparency conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity.