Farmer's hiring was rescinded by the city council in a 7-1 vote on Tuesday. In a statement addressed to the community and sent to the media on Saturday, she apologized for any harm caused to the city when she was hired and then immediately placed on leave.
Council members were upset that there was no disclosure of issues between Farmer and police officials at her former job in Guernsey, Wyoming — disputes that spilled over into three ongoing federal lawsuits. Farmer, 37, was to have an $80,000 annual salary in Chattanooga.
"These are troubling times for us all and I am very sorry to have filled your newspapers with drama and for any doubt that may have been cast by this," Farmer wrote to the community. "My sincerest apologies to all the city officials for the difficult position they have been placed in. I respect and admire these public officials and I am truly sorry for any harm I have caused. There are a lot of reasons this transpired the way it did but none of them should allow any fault to be directed towards the leaders of your community."
In the lawsuits, Farmer is accused of hacking into and disseminating emails with information regarding a criminal investigation involving other city employees and then, along with other Guernsey officials, firing the officers in retaliation.
In her apology, the first statement she has given since being hired, Farmer admits that no one in Chattanooga was made aware of the lawsuits, which were filed after Chattanooga conducted a pre-hire background check.
She did not address the details of the allegations, but wrote, "It is all too common for former employees to be disgruntled and to seek retribution."
While Farmer was largely cleared in an investigation into the lawsuits by outside counsel for the city, she was still terminated due to a lack of transparency, according to council members.
After referencing the "difficult" position she and her family are in after she lost the job in Chattanooga, Farmer seems to suggest she still hopes to reclaim her position, adding, "If allowed to continue as your city treasurer, I will work hard for you, and I will become an incredible asset to your community."
When asked if she was seeking employment from the city, Farmer told the Times Free Press that "nothing has changed about [her] ambition to serve the mayor, his administration, city council, and the citizens of Chattanooga."
Richel Albright, a spokeswoman for Mayor Andy Berke, said that the mayor's office was not aware of Farmer's statement and that, with council's approval revoked, the office could not rehire Farmer.
"At this time, City Council would have to choose to take any further action regarding Ms. Farmer," she wrote. "We have no other open positions at this time as we are in a hiring freeze."
Of the city's nine council members, only five were immediately available for comment Saturday. Of those five, none had heard any plans to rehire Farmer.
Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod told the Times Free Press that while she is sympathetic that Farmer is out of a job after moving to a new state, she is not supportive of rehiring her as treasurer.
Coonrod suggested that Farmer look for other open positions on the city's website.
Farmer declined to answer other questions about the lawsuits, citing advice from legal counsel, including why she failed to disclose the disputes to the city.
Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at email@example.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.
Letter from Farmer
Please accept my humble apology for the situation that has followed me to your great community. Some of you may have heard of me from the recent news articles regarding my appointment as your city treasurer. Just as soon as I was confirmed by the city council news broke about lawsuits against me. These are troubling times for us all and I am very sorry to have filled your newspapers with drama and for any doubt that may have been cast by this.
Your city council, Mayor Berke, and his administration had no notification about this situation. I had been thoroughly vetted for this position, a background check was done, but the lawsuits were filed against me after this process took place. The very moment the administration raised concerns about the allegations, I gave them complete and total disclosure. I believe in transparency. Honesty is a core value I do not compromise on. My sincerest apologies to all the city officials for the difficult position they have been placed in. I respect and admire these public officials and I am truly sorry for any harm I have caused. There are a lot of reasons this transpired the way it did but none of them should allow any fault to be directed towards the leaders of your community. As the independent investigator has stated these suits are “more-or-less run of the mill wrongful termination cases” and “there should be little concern with her ability to proceed with the duties of treasurer.” Unfortunately, when you hold these positions in leadership it is all too common for former employees to be disgruntled and to seek retribution.
As of now, these allegations have directly led to the loss of my position as your City Treasurer.
This is extremely difficult for me and my young family because I am the sole wage earner due to my husband’s medical condition and now we have lost that income, our insurance, and because I voluntarily left my former position we do not even have an option to file for the short term relief that unemployment would provide. In difficult times like these our faith is critical, and I sincerely ask for you all to please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers. I know in my heart that honesty and truth will triumph and this attempt to sully my name will be defeated. As the city attorney who is most knowledgeable about this situation is quoted in saying I am “a person of high competence and integrity.” If allowed to continue as your city Treasurer, I will work hard for you, and I will become an incredible asset to your community.
With my sincerest of apologies,