FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - In the closing days of the 2011
gubernatorial campaign, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie
Farmer hired his girlfriend as a special assistant in his
department, paying her $5,000 a month.
Farmer, who lost a bid for lieutenant governor earlier this
month, hired Stephanie L. Sandmann as a non-merit employee in the
Department of Agriculture with a start date of Oct. 31, according
to the state Personnel Cabinet.
Farmer's running mate, State Senate President David Williams,
told The Courier-Journal that Sandmann is Farmer's girlfriend, but
he had no idea she joined the state payroll eight days before the
Nov. 8 election.
"She told me she worked for a gynecologist," said Williams,
the unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor.
Department spokesman Bill Clary said Farmer, who is going
through a divorce, declined to be interviewed. Sandmann didn't
return a call to the paper Thursday afternoon.
According to her state personnel file, the 38-year-old Sandmann
didn't apply for a specific job but said she was willing to work
only in Frankfort.
Non-merit employees aren't required to pass civil-service tests
and can be hired or fired at the discretion of elected officials
and their top aides.
Asked if Sandmann remained on the state payroll, Clary told the
Associated Press on Friday, "She was as of yesterday, but beyond
that I don't have anything else to say."
He declined to comment when asked about her duties at the
State Rep. Jamie Comer of Tompkinsville was elected agriculture
commissioner last week and will take over in January for Farmer,
who couldn't seek a third term because of constitutional limits on
Comer wouldn't address Sandmann's situation directly, saying
only that he will handle hiring differently once he takes office in
"But I can assure you that changes will be made, and hiring of
qualified personnel will be my No. 1 priority."
Clary said he didn't know what Sandmann's duties are in the
department and had never met her. Later, Clary confirmed Sandmann's
employment and said he had never met her.
"I don't work in the same building. . You have exhausted my
knowledge of this subject," Clary said.
Farmer's estranged wife, Rebecca Ann, filed suit in Franklin
Circuit Court on April 5 to dissolve the couple's 13-year marriage.
The case is scheduled for trial Tuesday.
Sandmann is also going through a divorce. An order finalizing
her split from Stephen Sandmann was filed Oct. 19 in Jefferson
County, but is being challenged.
According to records in Jefferson Circuit Court, she filed for
divorce against her husband, Stephen Sandmann, in August. An order
finalizing that divorce was entered Oct. 19 but is being
In the waning days of the campaign, Farmer, a former University
of Kentucky basketball player first elected to office in 2003, and
Sandmann were often seen on the campaign trail together, including
election night at the Republican Party celebration in Lexington.
When asked if Sandmann was on the clock while attending campaign
events around the state, Clary said: "I don't have anything to say
on this subject."
Sandmann's application for the Agriculture Department position
said her last job was as a receptionist at a Louisville doctor's
office that provides gynecologic and obstetric care.
Information from: The Courier-Journal,
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)