RSSAll Entries in the "Agriculture Commissioner" Category

UK Student Government sponsors Oct. 12 forum with down-ticket candidates


Candidates in four state constitutional down-ticket races are to participate in a forum Oct. 12 sponsored by the University of Kentucky Student Government Association.

The forum is for candidates for auditor, treasurer, secretary of state and agriculture commissioner.

It is to begin at 7 p.m. at UK’s Singletary Center for the Arts and is free and open to the public.

Boone Proffit, director of the student government’s government relations, will host the forum. Josh Douglas, a faculty member at UK’s College of Law, will moderate.

–Jack Brammer

Richard Heath seeks recanvass in GOP race for agriculture commissioner

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT –State Rep. Richard Heath of Mayfield, a Republican candidate for agriculture commissioner in Tuesday’s primary election, asked Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes Thursday for a statewide recanvass.

Unofficial vote totals currently show Heath wth a 1,427-vote deficit to his opponent, state Rep. Ryan Quarles of Georgetown.

Grimes, the state’s chief election official, said she will forward Heath’s request to all county clerks and remind them of the procedures for a recanvass.

“Our office is always available to assist county boards of elections in any way we can,” Grimes said. “Integrity in our elections processes is crucial, and Kentuckians deserve to know that their votes are properly counted and tabulated.”

On Wednesday, Grimes received a statewide recanvass request from James R. Comer and Chris McDaniel, Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. They trail the GOP ticket of Matt Bevin and Jenean Hampton by 83 votes out of 214,187 cast.

County boards of elections will convene at 9 a.m. May 28 to recheck and recanvass the voting machines. Immediately upon completion of the recanvass, the county boards of elections will file their recanvass reports with Grimes.

KET schedules programs for May primary candidates

“Kentucky Tonight,” a weekly public affairs show on the Kentucky Educational Television network, will start on March 30 its candidate programs for the May 19 primary elections.

Hosted by Bill Goodman, the programs will begin at 8 p.m. on KET and will also stream live at and be archived online.

The scheduled candidates are:

March 30
Republicans for State Treasurer
– Allison Ball
– State Rep. Kenneth Churchill Imes

April 13
Democrats for State Treasurer
– Neville Blakemore
– State Rep.Rick Nelson

April 20 (two-part)
Republicans for Attorney General
– Lawrence County Attorney Michael T. Hogan
– State Sen. Whitney H. Westerfield

Republicans for Commissioner of Agriculture
– State Rep. Richard Heath
– State Rep. Ryan F. Quarles

KET plans to announce its programs for candidates for governor and lieutenant governor after April 10.

KET said candidates appearing on these programs have “demonstrated satisfaction of KET’s candidate invitation criteria, published at”

Live primary election night coverage from KET begins at 7 p.m. on May 19.

Prior to that, additional election coverage and analysis continues on “Comment on Kentucky,” and the topic of the May 18 Kentucky Tonight program will be the election.

Kentucky Tonight is a KET production, produced by Deidre Clark. Goodman is host and managing editor.

KET serve more than one million people each week via television, online and mobile.

–Jack Brammer

Candidates for state offices urged to file before Jan. 27 deadline


FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes reminded Monday that persons interested in running for state office this year have until Jan. 27 to file.

But she suggested filing earlier than that in case filing papers need to be corrected.

Kentucky law does not provide an opportunity to correct or re-file paperwork after the filing deadline of 4 p.m. Jan. 27, said Grimes, the state’s chief election official.

The offices of governor and lieutenant Governor, secretary of state, attorney general, auditor of public accounts, state treasure and commissioner of agriculture are on the ballot in Kentucky in 2015.

Candidates may access the filing forms required at

–Jack Brammer

Jean-Marie Lawson Spann files to run for state agriculture commissioner

With family members looking on, Jean-Marie Lawson Spann files for state agriculture commissioner.By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Farm radio show host Jean-Marie Lawson Spann made her Democratic bid for state agriculture commissioner official Wednesday by filing papers signed by former Gov. Paul Patton and former Agriculture Commissioner Billy Ray Smith.

With her husband, Bobby Spann of Union, and her parents, Sam and Beverly Lawson of Bowling Green, at her side, Lawson Spann filed her declaration papers in the secretary of state’s office in the Capitol.

Her mother will be her campaign treasurer. Her campaign manager will be named later, she said.

Lawson Spann had announced in June that she would be seeking the office now held by Republican James Comer of Tompkinsville. Comer is running for governor next year.

Lawson Spann is in her 10th year as host of the Jean-Marie Ag Show, a radio show about farm news. She is vice president of marketing for Lawson Marketing Inc. and a former vice president of marketing for Hartland Equipment.

A graduate of Western Kentucky University, Lawson Spann was a two-term state president of the Kentucky Young Democrats, secretary of the Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee, and a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Her husband is vice president of external affairs for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport.

Lawson Spann is the only candidate to file so far for agriculture commissioner. State Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, had considered running for the seat but announced in September decided that he will not.

Patton and Smith are part of Lawson Spann’s so-called “Ag-Mazing Army.”

Others who have endorsed her candidacy include former Govs. Julian Carroll and Martha Layne Collins, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, former auditor and lieutenant governor-to-be Crit Luallen, former agriculture commissioners Ed Logsdon and David Boswell, and House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark.

Democratic state Sen. Parrett eyeing possible run for state farm commissioner

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Dennis Parrett, a Democratic state senator from Elizabethtown, is “definitely considering” running for state agriculture commissioner in 2015.

He said Wednesday that he will decide within the next few weeks whether to enter the race that already has attracted a Democratic candidate.

“I have an interest in seeing agriculture move forward in this state,” Parrett, a farm supplier who has represented the 10th Senate district of Hardin and part of Jefferson County since 2011, said in a telephone interview.

Parrett, who will turn 55 on Oct. 30, had no opposition in this year’s primary and general elections for his legislative seat. He
is a farmer and the co-owner of Cecilia Farm Service in Hardin County. He is a former agriculture extension agent in Hardin and Nelson counties and holds a bachelor’s of science degree in agricultural economics from the University of Kentucky.

Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, a Democrat who is the host of a weekly radio show about farm news in Kentucky, announced her plans in June to run for state agriculture commissioner next year.

She is vice president of marketing for Lawson Marketing Inc. and a former vice president of marketing for Hartland Equipment in Bowling Green.

Asked about running against Lawson Spann, Parrett said, “I would not be running against her. I would be running for the office.”

Lawson Spann said in an email that she is focused on running her campaign.

“I have a plan to recruit and grow markets for our farmers’ products, to grow jobs and to improve Kentucky’s economy,” she said. “I do not think it is appropriate for me to comment about someone who is not officially committed to running for the office.”

The current state agriculture commissioner, Republican James Comer, has decided to run next year for governor. He is to officially announce his candidacy and running mate Sept. 9 in his hometown of Tompkinsville.

Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann expected to jump into state ag race this week

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT —Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, host of a weekly radio show about farm news in Kentucky and a former official with a farm equipment dealership, has scheduled a statewide tour this week to announce her plans for the state agriculture commissioner race in 2015.

Lawson Spann, a Democrat of Bowling Green, has been widely mentioned as a candidate in the race.

She said in a release Monday that she will “be starting her announcement tour across Kentucky” at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Frankfort.

Three former agriculture employees settle ethics charges

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — Three former state agriculture employees agreed Monday to pay a total of $15,500 in fines to settle ethics charges that stemmed from their employment under former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer.

In March, the Executive Branch Ethics Commission issued 42 ethics charges against Farmer, who was commissioner from 2004 to 2011. In addition, the commission charged six other former agriculture department employees and Farmer’s sister, Rhonda Monroe, an assistant director for the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

On Monday, the commission announced settlements with three of the former agriculture employees: Bruce Harper, George “Doug” Begley and Chris Parsons.

The ethics charges against Farmer, Monroe and former agriculture employees William E. Mobley, Steven Mobley and Stephanie L. Sandmann are still pending, said John Steffen, executive director of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

Prosecutors say Richie Farmer’s alleged wrongdoing started before 2008

Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer misused state resources to further his personal and political agendas prior to 2008, federal prosecutors allege in court documents filed late Friday.

Prosecutors said Farmer, who was agriculture commissioner from 2004 to 2011, was only charged with alleged improprieties from 2008 to 2011 because a five-year statute of limitations prohibits them from pursuing alleged wrongdoing before that time.

Still, prosecutors said they plan to introduce evidence about Farmer’s conduct prior to 2008 during trial to bolster their argument that Farmer had an “unwarranted sense of entitlement.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor said prosecutors plan to show that Farmer improperly influenced the hiring, promoting and rewarding of more employees than the three who are mentioned in an April indictment of Farmer.

Testimony and evidence also will show that Farmer, a former beloved University of Kentucky basketball player and once rising star in the Republican Party, tried to influence private vendors to provide goods and services to him or the department.

Prosecutors want Farmer trial moved to fall

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer

By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — Federal prosecutors want the trial of former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer moved to this fall and say defense lawyers’ request to move the trial to February 2014 is unreasonable, according to documents filed Thursday.

Lawyers for Farmer filed a motion earlier this week asking U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove to delay the July 2 trial until February 2014 “at the earliest.” J. Guthrie True, a lawyer for Farmer, said he had multiple scheduling conflicts and more than 16 compact discs of evidence against Farmer to review, making a July 2 trial impossible.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor, in a response filed in the federal court case, agreed that the case against Farmer — who faces multiple charges of misusing more than $450,000 in taxpayer funds — is complex but said that delaying the trial to February 2014 was “excessive.” Taylor asked that the judge set a trial date for the fall. Taylor noted in court filings that the case against Farmer is “an important case of public interest, and litigation should proceed at a reasonable pace.”