U.S. probing dealer, congressman Vern Buchanan on campaign finances
A three-term Republican congressman, Vern Buchanan is a finance officer with the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is charged with getting GOP candidates elected to the House.
DETROIT -- Federal investigators are taking another look at Florida dealer and U.S. congressman Vern Buchanan for allegedly breaking campaign finance laws.
Agents for the FBI and Internal Revenue Service have been in contact with ex-employees of his dealership who have alleged financial misdeeds by Buchanan, according to recent media reports, including a story last week in The New York Times.
The House Ethics Committee also is taking a deeper look at the Republican congressman after he failed to report income and management positions in a number of companies and organizations.
This isn't Buchanan's first brush with U.S. investigators.
The Federal Election Commission had opened its own investigation on Buchanan after a complaint filed in 2008 alleged he had been repaying dealership workers for donating to his campaign. The case was later dropped, but it spun off a new investigation looking at his former business associate Sam Kazran for the same allegations. A proposed settlement on that case was reached last week.
On top of that, the U.S. Department of Justice is making its own inquiries into whether Buchanan directed his ex-business partner to reimburse employees for campaign contributions, a Florida newspaper reported in October.
Sally Tibbetts, a campaign spokesman for Buchanan, told the newspaper that the congressman had asked the Justice Department also to investigate whether two individuals tried to get him to pay $43 million in hush money over the alleged illegal campaign fundraising.
A spokesman for Buchanan couldn't be reached.
A three-term Republican congressman, Buchanan is a finance officer with the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is charged with getting GOP candidates elected to the House. He's also a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
Buchanan, a Michigan native, co-founded the American Speedy franchise chain of printing shops in the 1970s. He later moved to Florida and went on to build a successful car dealership group, which now operates stores in Florida and North Carolina.
In 2009, The Hill publication listed Buchanan among the 50 wealthiest members of Congress.
However, in his 2008 run for U.S. Congress, stories of financial problems at American Speedy surfaced. What Buchanan's campaign literature described as his successful sale of the company to Merrill Lynch was discovered to be a personal loan from Merrill to him that was secured by American Speedy stock.
The company filed for bankruptcy in 1992, and a team of investors later purchased the company and reorganized it.