Romney walks through one of Lemar Koethe's 54 farms. AP Photo: Charles Dharapak
If Mitt Romney wants to change perceptions that he’s out of touch with the average American, he might want to try a little harder.
In an attempt to show his concern for farmers hit by the devastating drought that has swept78 percent of the country, Romney had a photo-op with Iowa “farmer” Lemar Koethe. However, Koethe isn’t exactly the rugged down-home farmer struggling to keep his operation going that you might expect.
Or should I say operations — 54 of them. Yes, according to the Des Moines Register, Koethe owns 54 soy and corn farms. And that’s just one of his jobs.
In previous reports on his activity over the years from the Des Moines Register, Koethe is also a described as a millionaire, a real estate mogul, and a former concert promoter who booked acts like Slipknot at his 24,000 square foot event center.
Making this farmer’s life that much different from the average person, Koethe lives in a spaceship house. It might not have a car elevator like Romney’s planned home, but it’s got its own car wash bay and recreation center:
Here’s how the home was described by the Environmental Design Group:
Arguably one of the most distinctive homes in Iowa-if not the nation-this personal residence takes unique architecture to a new level. It contains an underground garage equipped for multiple vehicles, as well as a car wash bay.The lower level also contains a large recreation center with an art display area.Grade-level entry provides access to the elevator and a spiral staircase rising 35 feet to the main living area. The main level provides an amazing panoramic view of the area.
Not your typical farmhouse.
Finally, according to figures from the EWG Farm Subsidies database, Koethe has received $130,575 in conservation payments from the federal government. Conservation payments, which add up to about $5 billion in federal spending each year, are typically used by the government to encourage farmers not to grow crops — sometimes to stabilize prices and sometimes to preserve land. (Scott: Yes, you read that right, this millionaire gets paid twice the national family income to NOT grow crops in the middle of a drought.)
Like a lot of people in the agricultural sector, Koethe says the drought is hurting some of his crops. Ultimately, when it comes to voicing his concerns, it shouldn’t matter if the man owns one farm, 10 farms, or 54 farms — he’s taking a hit like everyone else.
But really, Romney? Out of the hundreds of thousands of farmers being impacted by the drought — many of them family farmers struggling to keep their heads above water — you had to meet the millionaire real estate mogul who lives in a spaceship house with an underground car wash and recreation center?