(…It also might offer some clues about why the Williams/Farmer ticket got beat so soundly in the November election. It certainly isn’t because the incumbent had great ideas to move Kentucky forward.)
This from today’s (Louisville) Courier-Journal (emphasis added):
FRANKFORT, KY.— The Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture paid nearly $80,000 to the Marriott Griffin Gate for its various services as host of the association’s 2008 convention at the Lexington resort.
But state emails indicate that it was the group’s then-president, former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, who was credited with 55,000 Marriott Rewards points earned in connection with the event.
Last week The Courier-Journal obtained hundreds of pages of records relating to the convention in response to an Open Records Act request filed with the office of Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.
The records are not clear about whether the reward points were related to a $67,730 bill paid by association or an $11,640 bill paid by the state agency, or both.
The records include a June 30, 2008, email from Marriott that begins, “Dear Richie Farmer, thank you for holding your recent event at one of the participating Marriott locations. This message confirms that you earned 55,000 Marriott Rewards points for holding your event at the Lexington Griffin Gate Resort. These Marriott Rewards points were added to your Marriott Rewards account on 06/30/2008.”
Other records include an email dated May 30, 2008, in which Farmer’s executive assistant sent his Marriott Rewards account number to the department official who was coordinating planning for the convention.
Holly VonLuehrte, general counsel for the Agriculture Department, said in an interview Tuesday, “It is our understanding from the individual that was managing this situation for the department that she was directed to ensure that those points were credited to the former commissioner.”
The website for Marriott Rewards says members can purchase 1,000 points for $12.50. At that rate, the 55,000 points that Farmer received are worth $687.50. Also, a customer service representative for Marriott Rewards said Tuesday that a one-night stay at a Marriott would cost between 7,500 to 40,000 points, depending on the category of the hotel.