CHATTANOOGA – Former Guernsey Treasurer, Kate Farmer who moved to Chattanooga, Tenn., to take a new position as the Chattanooga City Treasurer has been put on administrative leave only two days into her new position after information was gained concerning three federal lawsuits that are pending against her in federal court in Cheyenne.
Shortly after being hired to the position in Chattanooga, Sarah Grace Taylor, a reporter from the Chattanooga Times Free Press, discovered some previously unknown information about Farmer’s past allegations and discovered the federal lawsuits that were in process that were not disclosed at the time to her new employer.
“I ‘sniffed out’ the story,” said Taylor, “but I can’t share how I got her email, I’m afraid,” referring to getting the email of former Guernsey Police Chief Terri Van Dam.
Van Dam thought it strange that the reporter had emailed her and questions who divulged that information to the reporter.
Farmer, who was approved by the city council to her new position May 5 was put on administrative leave after it was reported by the Times Free Press she was a defendant in three lawsuits filed by three police officers in Guernsey.
According to the Times Free Press, the Chattanooga officials were previously unaware of the lawsuits. Farmer, who is paid an $80,000 salary, will continue to be paid.
In a statement made by the City of Chattanooga released by the Times Free Press, “The city of Chattanooga has placed Kate Farmer on administrative leave until further notice and will be using outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation of the three pending civil cases in the federal court of Wyoming, in which she is named,” the city said in a statement.
“Any questions regarding the pending litigation in the federal court of Wyoming should be directed toward attorney John Bowers, who is serving as counsel for the town of Guernsey, Wyo., and all named parties in those three cases,” Chief Operating Officer Maura Sullivan wrote in an email Thursday. “As prescribed by the Chattanooga City Code, Assistant City Treasurer Sharon Morris will cover Ms. Farmer’s absence at this time. The administration will have no comment on this matter until the independent investigation is concluded.”
There was a background check done on Farmer, but Chief Operating Officer, Maura Sullivan said, according to the Times Free Press, “These case filings weren’t filed with the federal court of Wyoming until after her background check and official offer. Additionally, of note, Ms. Farmer received the initial service on the first case as she was leaving the city of Guernsey, so she turned all of those documents over to the city attorney of Guernsey. Since that time, she has been moving and relocating to Chattanooga and not been involved in the case that the city of Guernsey is preparing.”
The onus now is on the City of Chattanooga as to finding out if Farmer was indeed involved in the lawsuits and if she had intentionally withheld the information. The members of the Chattanooga City Council were reported by the Times Free Press stating some members are consideration to rescind the approval of Farmer’s hire.
According to the Times Free Press, Chattanooga reporter Taylor said, “In her complaint, Van Dam alleges that Farmer later illegally hacked her email and disseminated confidential information in an attempt to usurp an investigation into corruption and drug use among other city employees. The information had been turned over to state and federal law enforcement using Van Dam’s city email, according to the complaints filed by Van Dam and the other two officers. All three officers were later fired by Farmer and other city officials, according to the lawsuits.”