[Sarasota, FL] It does not look good for Florida’s own U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-13/Sarasota). The rising star of the Republican Party is facing multiple investigations for ethical violations as well as campaign financing irregularities.
And this is the guy the GOP tapped to help the whole party raise money? Yes, it is.
The most recent federal agency to take a look around Buchanan’s operation is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who was reportedly snooping around last month, asking staffers about certain reimbursements for illegal straw donations.
The illegal contributions amount to $90,000. Buchanan, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, is also accused of failing to disclose his involvement with more than a dozen companies.
It gets worse.
One already-completed investigation by the Federal Election Commission showed that a former business partner of Mr. Buchanan’s used their car dealership to “reimburse employees for contributing to the congressman’s campaigns,” according to sources. That’s a violation of federal law.
Strangely, the commission dropped their case against Buchanan despite testimony that he participated in the scheme.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan speaking with constituents
But The New York Times reports that in Tampa, a federal grand jury is looking into the matter. Buchanan claims it is just sour grapes by a former business associate and that the same associate tried to blackmail him for $43 million.
Washington lawyer Bill McGinley, who was representing Buchanan last year, was quoted in the Bradenton Herald as saying that, “Congressman Buchanan is a victim.”
Buchanan’s Congressional filings are also being heavily scrutinized by the House Ethics Committee. He apparently failed to own up to as many as 17 financial ties to various business interests as well as never mentioned tens of thousands of dollars worth of income from at least one of those interests.
“The Office of Congressional Ethics board recommends that the Committee on Ethics further review the above allegation, because there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. Buchanan violated House rules, standards of conduct and federal law,” the board wrote.
Unfortunately for House Republicans – who have made a huge point of having “zero tolerance” for ethical lapses – Vern Buchanan is one of the party’s more high-profile House representatives as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee‘s finance team and a member of the mega-powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Image: U.S. House of Representatives