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Ag Commissioner Comer plans open house but steers clear of calling it political

October 07, 2013 | | Comments 3

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT –Y’all come, says state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, to a public open house he is hosting of his department that his office says has nothing to do with politics.

The open house, a novelty for Kentucky constitutional officers, will feature a tour of the department’s offices and a lunch of hot dogs and chips paid for by Comer, Holly Harris VonLuehtre, Comer’s chief of staff, said Monday.

No tax dollars will be used for the Oct. 15 event that runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the department at 111 Corporate Drive in Frankfort, she said, adding that Comer hopes to make this an annual occasion.

Comer is frequently mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for governor in 2015.

VonLuehtre said this is the first time Comer has held an open house for his department and may be the first time ever a state constitutional officer in Kentucky has hosted one.

But VonLuehtre maintained that the open house “has nothing whatsoever to do with politics.”

VonLuehtre laughed when asked about the first letters of the last three main words of the official name of the happening –“Kentucky Department of Agriculture Open House for Transparency, Efficiency and Accountability” –that spell “TEA.”

Could that suggest a certain political party? she was asked.

“Come on now. Give me a break,” she said.

However, Lexington developer John T. Kemper III of Lexington, who is a leader in the United Kentucky Tea Party, said he is helping VonLuehtre organize and publicize the open house.

Kemper ran unsuccessfully in 2011 for state auditor on a GOP ticket with Comer. He had the strong backing of the Tea Party.

“Commissioner Comer just wants to educate people about the state agriculture department,” Kemper said. “I think it’s a good idea and am glad to help.

“Yes, I’ve been contacting people who are politically active, but every Kentuckian should know about this department.”

Kemper said he “never thought about ‘Transparency, Efficiency and Accountability’ spelling out ‘Tea.’ Those are just words the commissioner regularly uses.”

The open house and its schedule also are being promoted on “Jefferson Review,” whose editor describes it as “a liberty-oriented online newsletter.”

VonLuehtre said Comer has “no idea” how many people will show up for the open house.

She is recommending that anyone who plans to attend to call 502-573-0450 “so we can know how many to expect.”

Filed Under: James Comer

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  1. Honest+Parley says:

    This event borders on bizarre, given that the Department of Agriculture should be “open” to citizens every day of the week. Are there in fact times when the KDA is not “open” to citizens? Are things so calm within the Department of Agriculture that government officials can take time for an “open house”? WIll the professional staff attending the open house do so on non-compensated time? Does Mr. Kemper believe everyone should know about the Department of Agriculture because it’s a necessary government function, or because it’s a relic of times past? Honest would encourage the Commissioner to nip this bad idea in the bud. There’s little to nothing to be gained with events of this nature, while creating a large target for criticism, such as, for example, hot dogs and chips? Where’s the Kentucky in that agriculture?

  2. Jeff says:

    One thing I know for sure is the hot dogs will not be in Richie Farmers refrigerator that he stole. This entire event is another gimmick. When you do your job people notice and you do not have to provide food for people to see!

  3. Buck+Feshear says:

    They have an open house every year at Christmas at the Governor’s Mansion. So what?