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CREW names Fincher among worst in Congress

CREW names Fincher among worst in Congress

From staff, AP reports
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a non-profit legal watchdog group, has named U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher as one of the most corrupt members of Congress.
Officials with the group said questions had been raised about Fincher’s finances since early on in his campaign and 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 as one of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress,” a release from the group states.
CREW states 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 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,” CREW officials said.
The CREW press release continued by stating Fincher’s campaign reported it had received a $250,000 loan from the candidate, but that, in fact, the loan was made by Gates Banking and Trust Company, where the representative’s father serves on the board of directors. The bank refused to reveal the loan’s terms or collateral.
Only after Fincher was elected did his campaign reveal the loan had a 6.5 percent interest rate, had a due date of Nov. 30, 2010, and had been secured with collateral of $600,000 in crops, Fincher’s home and a non-interest-bearing deposit account of undisclosed value.
The Federal Election Commission investigated after Roy Herron, Fincher’s opponent in 2010, filed a complaint. It found Fincher’s campaign committee had probably violated federal campaign finance laws, but the commissioners split 3-3 on whether or not to access a civil penalty. A majority is required to take any action.
On Tuesday, three months after the FEC deadlocked on the complaint, Republican members say they refused to endorse a penalty against U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher’s campaign committee because loan reporting is an issue that “trips up” many candidates.
The Republicans said the requirements for reporting campaign loans “is an issue that trips up many candidates, especially novice candidates who may have nonprofessional staff or volunteers assisting with their administrative obligations,” The Commercial Appeal reported from its Washington bureau.
CREW’S Most Corrupt Report is an annual look at a bipartisan collection of what it considers to be Washington’s worst. This year’s list includes seven Democrats and 12 Republicans, five of which are rare repeat offenders. Since 2005, CREW has named 70 members of Congress to the list, 32 of whom are no longer in office.
An analysis of CREW’s activities by the Capital Research Center shows that CREW disproportionately targets conservatives by a ratio of more than 8 to 1.
“At the same time, the corresponding federal oversight agencies responsible for investigating CREW’s complaints indicate that, historically, Democrats have been investigated far more often for ethics violations,” the center’s site states.
More information about CREW can be found at www.citizensforethics.org.

Published in The Messenger 9.22.11

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