The chairman of an Arkansas county Republican committee died from complications associated with COVID-19 on Tuesday—less than one month after his organization hosted a maskless gathering with other elected leaders.
Steven Farmer, who served as the chairman of the Craighead County Republican Committee, died on Tuesday after a weeks-long battle with the coronavirus that resulted in a stay at the ICU and a ventilator, his daughter and the organization announced.
The news comes just three weeks after his committee hosted an event with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX), who contracted COVID-19 in July, for Reagan Day. Photos of the event show few attendees wearing masks and minimal social distancing. Arkansas state Rep. Dan Sullivan, who is currently spearheading a lawsuit to overturn the mask mandate and other health directives in his state, also appears to have spoken at the event.
A committee spokesperson told The Daily Beast that Farmer, who also served as the superintendent of the Jonesboro Human Development Center, did not attend the Sept. 14 event.
“Dad’s soul is singing today even though ours aren’t. But grief is the price you pay for being blessed enough to experience the kind of love that dad gave and lived through his actions every day,” Audrey Haynie, Farmer’s daughter, said in a Tuesday Facebook post.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t save you....but I know that you’re even more perfect now than when you were here. We will see your face and hear your voice in everyone and everything you left here.....in your legacy. Thank you for that. For the gift of you. We’ll be seeing you.”
Haynie has chronicled her father’s illness since Sept. 18, posting on Facebook that he was admitted to the ICU the same week as the Reagan Day event. Over several posts, Farmer’s daughter described how the GOP county chair had been showing some signs of recovery until Sept. 25—when his condition took a turn for the worse.
“We got a horrible report this morning. The doctor called me and said he was very worried that dad was not going to make it through this,” Haynie wrote, adding that her father was beginning to show signs of shock. On Monday, Haynie posted, “Breathe easy, dad. Just breathe,” while sharing that his EEG showed that Farmer had minimal brain activity.
Following Haynie’s announcement about her father’s passing, the Craighead County Republican Committee released a statement, calling Farmer a “great caring friend to all and a dedicated leader.”
In addition to his duties as chairman of the GOP committee, Farmer has also served as coordinator for the Craighead County Crisis Response Team. According to KAIT, Farmer was a former board member of the Arkansas Crisis Response Team, and served as a chaplain for the Jonesboro Fire Department.