Meet Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher (pictured, right), a “Tea Party” conservative from Tennessee.

Fincher, a member of the Republican freshman class elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, represents a district in Tennessee that includes the Cates Landing port project, an infrastructure project that would include a 9,000-foot slack-water harbor, an adjacent 350-acre industrial park, improvements to local roads to connect it to U.S. Highway 78, and a short-line railroad to a larger rail line 28 miles away. Some estimates indicate the Cates Landing port project would create thousands of jobs in the Lake County region, which could certainly use the jobs, given that nearly 38 percent of the region’s residents live below the poverty line. More than $33 million has already been invested in the project, but an additional $20 million – $13 million from the federal government and $7 million from the state of Tennessee – will be needed to finish the project, a fact that presented a bit of a quandary for Rep. Fincher, a “Tea Party” Republican who was elected thanks in part to his pledges to get government spending under control. On the one hand Rep. Fincher could stick to his principles and oppose any federal spending for the project, or he could stand up for his constituents and demand federal funding that would likely help create good jobs in his district.

Recognizing the need to “bring home the bacon,” Rep. Fincher Fincher spoke directly with Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about federal funding for the Cates Landing port project after funding for the project was imperiled by House Republicans who wanted to cut transportation spending as a way of cutting overall government spending. Following his conversation with Secretary LaHood, Rep. Fincher wrote a follow-up letter seeking assistance in “obligating” the $13 million federal grant for the Cates Landing port project.

“The contract is currently before your Department and ready to be signed,” the letter read. “I am respectively requesting you to help push this project over the final hurdle. There is no law, regulation, or other legal obligation to prevent you from signing this contract and I urge you to do so without further delay.”

Rep. Fincher’s lobbying in favor of the Cates Landing port project had positive results, as the federal grant providing funding for the project was signed on March 18, according to a Department of Transportation spokesperson.

Speaking about the federal funding for the Cates Landing port project, Rep. Fincher issued a statement both praising the incoming federal funds and taking some credit for helping get the funds, saying, “We just wanted to make sure that we could do everything possible to create jobs, and this was a part we could play and I did everything I could and we were successful.”

However, here’s where this story gets really interesting. Despite publicly praising federal funding for the Cates Landing project and noting that the funding would help create jobs, just two short days after writing Secretary LaHood to request the federal funding, Rep. Fincher voted for the a Republican House budget that cut billions of dollars, including from many other transportation priorities. After Rep. Fincher’s vote to cut billions of dollars in transportation funding, his office put out a press release scolding “out of control” and “reckless” federal spending.

So let’s recap:

Transportation spending by the federal government in Rep. Stephen Fincher’s district? Perfectly acceptable spending that will create jobs.

Transportation spending by the federal government in districts not represented by Rep. Stephen Fincher? “Out of control” and “reckless” spending.

Sounds like a perfect example of hypocrisy to me.

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One Response to Republicans assail government spending while still advocating pork spending for their districts

  1. Ed Heinzelman says:

    And let’s not forget that government can’t create jobs…

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