The Gospel-Singing Farmer Sings Easier With Subsidies

The CA’s Bart Sullivan is all over this one:

Steven Fincher

Republican congressional candidate Stephen Fincher’s receipt of $3.2 million in federal crop subsidies since 1999 is likely to be a major issue in a year of Tea Party political ascendancy within the GOP.

Some see Fincher’s receipt of subsidies as a potential conflict of interest if he wins the 8th District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. John Tanner and is there when Congress debates and votes on a 2012 Farm Bill.

The perceived front-runner, a gospel-singing critic of wasteful federal spending who has the support of the National Republican Congressional Committee, is also smarting from news reports that he has voted in Democratic primaries as recently as 2006.

Fincher insists it’s not as bad as it looks:

“That amount is false. It’s a lie,” he said Friday, explaining that he typically receives between $170,000 and $200,000 a year in subsidies. “A lot of that (subsidy) money is loans that are repaid back through the cotton program and that money doesn’t actually end up in my pocket.”

His is a family farm of 2,500 to 3,000 acres in parts of five counties, and a separate operation from those run by other members of his family, he said.

However, a former GOP and potential independent opponent in November says otherwise:

Donn Janes, a candidate for the GOP nomination before declaring himself an independent backed by the Tea Party movement, was the first in the race to raise the issue of Fincher’s crop subsidies.

“It’s wrong on a lot of levels,” Janes said last week. “For a candidate who’s running on a platform that’s based on reducing federal spending… farm subsidies makes a big chunk of that entitlement spending.

“Not only did he receive that large amount of money from federal farm subsidies, but a majority of his initial contributors have received millions as well,” Janes added. “It’s almost like his whole campaign is being federally subsidized. It’s federal dollars — our taxpayer dollars — that are funding his campaign.”

OUCH! ¬†Fincher, who became the NRCC’s hand-picked candidate to run against Congressman John Tanner before he decided not to seek re-election, is also getting smacked by his primary opponents for voting in Democratic primaries:

GOP opponent Ronald Kirkland, a doctor in Jackson, is also teeing off on perceived public dislike for both government handouts and corporate farming.

“It is strange that a candidate who says he is opposed to ‘runaway spending’ takes such a large amount of subsidies,” Kirkland said. “His stance is in direct opposition to free markets and limited government.”

Kirkland said he wants to support the farm economy in the 8th District with the farm savings account, elimination of the estate tax and lowering the tax on capital gains. He says such policies would support “all farmers, not just the large-scale ones, at considerably less cost to taxpayers.”

Fincher, asked about his Democratic primary votes, said that in a county that doesn’t typically have Republican primaries, voting in a Democratic primary is the only way to exercise the right to vote. He noted that Kirkland, too, had voted in Democratic primaries.’

It looks more and more like whomever comes out of the GOP primary will have taken significant damage, something that I am sure brings a smile to the face of presumptive Democratic nominee Senator Roy Herron (D-Dresden).

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