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Thursday
Mar312011

Report: Lawmakers With Tea Party Ties Getting Government Dollars

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Tea Party swept into the 112th Congress with promises of cutting government spending.  According to a report out Thursday, though, at least five lawmakers with Tea Party connections have been longtime recipients of federal agricultural subsidies.

"There's nothing too surprising about hypocrisy in Washington," Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group, told ABC News.  "This particular group, you not only have to look at the hypocrisy but you need to watch your wallet."

While the majority of American farmers receive no government money at all, at least 23 current members of congress or their families have received government money for their farms -- combining for more than $12 million since 1995, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group.

The biggest recipient was Rep. Stephen Fincher, a Republican from Frog Jump, Tennessee.

While the self-described Tea Party patriot lists his occupation as "farmer" and "gospel singer" in the Congressional Directory, he doesn't mention that his family has received more than $3 million in farm subsidies from 1995 to 2009, according to the Environmental Working Group.

When asked whether he would be willing to see all his subsidies go away, Fincher would not directly say he would no longer take any more subsidies.

"We need a good, better, we need a better farm program and we need to streamline it," he said.  "We need to look at many many options.  And that's a long way off."

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., who also was swept into office with the Tea Party movement, received $774,489 in farm subsidies over the same period, according to the EWG's numbers, while Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., received almost $180,000 between 1997 and 2009.

And Republicans are not the only ones who received federal subsidies.  On the Democrats side, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., received $159,549 from USDA subsidies between 1995 and 2009, according to the report.  Listed as owners of T-Bone Farms, Tester and his wife Sharla received $282,754 in subsidies between the years of 1995 and 2009.

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