Tea Party Hypocrisy? Some Lawmakers With Tea Party Ties Are on the Government Dole

VIDEO: Congressmen with Tea Party support benefit from government subsidies.
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The Tea Party swept into the 112th Congress with promises of cutting government spending.

But according to a report out today, 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, Tenn.

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.

According to the EWG report, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., received almost $180,000 between 1997 and 2009.

ABC News' Diane Sawyer grilled the lawmakers on the subject in January during her exclusive Tea Party interview with 10 freshmen members of the House and Senate.

"Are you ready to vote against all farm subsidies? That's $20 billion by one estimate, at least," Sawyer asked.

"Well, I think everything should be on the table," Hartzler said. "And, yes, there's a lot of us farmers that have participated in the program."

Sawyer then asked Rep. Stutzman about the more than $100,000 in farm subsidies he received and whether he would vote to cut them.

Stutzman told ABC News that he is in favor of eliminating farm subsidies, including his own.

"Yes, I would vote to eliminate farm subsidies. It manipulates the market," he said. "And that's the problem here in Washington: The adult conversation, I think, has to be, 'no.'"

Hartzler said she was open to "starting the discussion and look at it."

But she added, "I think we need to make sure that everything is looked at before we just pick on the farmers."

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.

It's hard not to pick on farmers, who accept huge government subsidies.

In 2009 alone, government farm subsidies totaled more than $16 billion. They totaled almost a quarter of a trillion dollars over the last 15 years.

Just five crops account for 90 percent of all farm subsidies: cotton, corn, rice, wheat, and soybeans.

Environmental Working Group President Cook said the farm subsidy program has "started to rot."

"The way subsidies are supposed to work is when prices dip or there's a weather problem we provide assistance," Cook said. "But now the system is really corrupted, and what we do now is we pay farmers or anyone who owns land who is eligible for the payments. Now we pay whether there's a need or not."

Two other Republican members with Tea Party support also have received farm subsidies.

Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa has four farms and he's received a little more than $1 million, according to the report.

The Racota Valley Ranch, the family ranch of South Dakota's only congresswoman, Rep. Kristi Noem, received more than $3 million from 1995 to 2008.

ABC News asked candidate Noem in September about farm subsidies and if she saw them as a place to cut waste.

"I think there has been, in the past, and there is some potential there," she said. "I think we need to make sure the dollars are going where they are intended to go.

"You know, the United States engages in a cheap food policy and we have got a lot of government regulations that come in and impact markets and prices, so we need to make sure we are giving our farmers an opportunity to work on a level playing field with other countries and market our products," she added. "But we need to make sure we are spending our taxpayer dollars correctly as well."

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