September 19, 2011

Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) Named One of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress

Washington, D.C. – Questions have been raised about Rep. Stephen Fincher’s (R-TN) finances since early on in his campaign. He claimed to have almost no assets at the start of his campaign and has since filed multiple inconsistent financial disclosure forms, revealing significantly greater assets.  It’s no wonder he has been named by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) as one of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress. Click here to read CREW’s full report on Rep. Fincher.

“Rep. Fincher ruthlessly lied and cheated his way to an electoral victory.  Given his track record, how can Americans believe anything that comes out of his mouth now that he’s in Congress?” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.  “Members like this give Congress a bad name.”

As a candidate, Rep. Fincher filed a financial disclosure form reporting he expected to earn roughly $60,000 from his farm in 2009.  On a subsequent form filed just seven months later, in May of 2010, he reported earning more than twice that amount.  Oddly, on both forms he claimed the farm was his only asset, and that he did not have a bank account of any kind. Once elected, he also disclosed nine loans he’d failed to report earlier.

In July of 2010, his campaign reported it had received a $250,000 loan from the candidate.  A lie, as it turned out.  In fact, the loan was made by Gates Banking and Trust Company, where Rep. Fincher’s father serves on the board of directors. The bank refused to reveal the loan’s terms or collateral.

Only after Rep. Fincher was elected did his campaign reveal the loan had a 6.5% interest rate, had a due date of November 30, 2010 and had been secured with collateral of $600,000 in crops, Rep. Fincher’s home, and a non-interest-bearing deposit account of undisclosed value. 

Even the Federal Election Commission (FEC) took notice of Rep. Fincher’s shady finances. While finding Rep. Fincher’s campaign committee had probably violated federal campaign finance laws, in typical toothless FEC fashion, however, the commissioners split 3-3 on whether or not to access a civil penalty. A majority is required to take any action.

“Once again, the FEC has shown it has no regard for the law,” said Ms. Sloan. “Just what candidates need: encouragement to lie about their finances without fear of reprisal.”

This is the 7th edition of the CREW’S Most Corrupt Report, an annual look at a bipartisan collection of Washington’s worst.  This year’s list includes seven Democrats, and 12 Republicans.  Five are repeat offenders.  Since 2005, CREW has named 70 members of Congress to the list, 32 of whom are no longer in office. 

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