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Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan Facing Ethics, IRS, FBI Investigations

Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan is facing some fairly serious legal problems:

Washington (CNN) – Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, a self-made Florida millionaire, is only in his third term in Congress, but he already is in charge of fundraising for the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, and he sits on the powerful House Ways and Means committee.

But all that could be jeopardized. Federal investigations underway could result in Buchanan serving his next term behind bars.

CNN has confirmed there are no fewer than four congressional and federal investigations into Buchanan’s business practices, his campaign finances and his alleged attempt to try to stop a witness from talking.

Many of the questions surrounding Buchanan go back to his auto dealerships in Florida where he made his millions, and back to the days when he worked with his former business partner Sam Kazran.

Their partnership started at what is now a weed-filled lot, the former North Jacksonville Hyundai dealership. Eventually they owned four dealerships together.

“I respected him,” Kazran says of their early years together. “I believed him.”

But Kazran says he was naive, and that he soon found out the man he believed in was interested in only two things: money and power.

“Mr. Buchanan is a very selfish person, and in my opinion people who go to Congress have got to do good for the people they represent,” Kazran says.

Kazran presented to CNN the same information, documents and testimony he has given to federal investigators. The two men had a falling out over their finances, and they’ve been suing each other for years. Buchanan says Kazran is a disgruntled partner and has lied about what happened.

At the center of Kazran’s allegations is a cash swap scheme used to finance some of Buchanan’s campaigns. He says employees were forced to write checks, then were reimbursed with cash drawn from Buchanan’s car dealerships.

“It was to a point where I said, ‘Chief, we can’t give you this kind of money. At which point he said, ‘Just run it through the corporation,'” Kazran said. “What he said to me was ‘Get people to write a check to the campaign and then pay them back through the corporation.'”

There’s far more to Kazran’s story, which CNN covered last night:

More to come I’m sure.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Let me go out on a limb here: this investigation will NOT come close to triggering a Constitutional crisis, like the one into former Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  2. John Burgess says:

    Buchanan represents my district. The election financing claims were investigated by the FEC which, in Feb. 2011, closed the case without taking further action. I’m not claiming that Buchanan necessarily has clean hands, but Karzan has had a real vendetta going. Why this is coming up again, when the allegations have been raised since 2008 by his Dem. opponents for his seat, is puzzling, other than, of course, it’s an election year.

    SEC General Council’s Report Jan. 25, 2011

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  3. Buzz Buzz says:

    The FEC then dropped the investigation into Buchanan, stating, “While there is some other evidence in the record that is consistent with Kazran’s general allegations, other evidence supports Buchanan’s denials or is ambiguous.” Read the FEC report (pdf).

    The FEC eventually fined Kazran $5,000 in a settlement because he admitted reimbursing employees for campaign contributions. Kazran has never disputed his involvement, but he says he did it because Buchanan told him to.

    In other words, CNN runs with hit job against a Republican Congressman where the only named source is an admitted lawbreaker who’s currently involved in litigation against the Republican in question.

    The Federal Election Commission has already investigated the allegations and not only did they clear the Republican of any wrongdoing, but as the cherry on the sundae they actually found that it was CNN’s source for this story who was guilty of what he accused the Republican candidate of doing, and fined him $5,000.

    #winning!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  4. TigerlillyFlorida says:

    @Buzz Buzz: Obviously you have not kept up with the Vern story. There are dozens of people who have come forward with the same story and documents. Vern pays a lot of money to silence people. When he goes under oath see what he has to say..guessing it will go something like, “I don’t remember, I wasn’t there, call my office”. He is not a honest man and time is getting short for Mr B. he is all about money and power, just look at all the ruined people in his wake. Can’t he come up with something other than “disgruntled?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Disputes over failed partnerships usually are pretty nasty. This one, however, appears at first glance to be in the nature of a personal vendetta.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  6. al-Ameda says:

    I’m sure that Darrell Issa is about ready to take this one on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  7. hubydoll166 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    This is where america is really messing up and losing control of congress. It doesnt matter what party they belong to. Really? What kind of response ir “A democrat done it” ? Thats just absurd! Democrat or Republicans…we must all start to figure out why these people want in congress to begin with? Could it be that they think congress is so corrupt these days becasuse we the people have this “the other side done it too” kinda attitude that they get into office to further their own private agenda’s that serve their poclket books? Its no wonder why we have no control over our elected government! Think people!! Lets send them all a message when theyu run for office that we wont stand for personal aspirations of making themselves rich when they are suppose to be representing us! We are sending them the wrong message and now we are living in the consequences of a crappy congress on both sides that serve their own pupose over ours..WE ARE ALLOWING THIS!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  8. HarvardLaw92 says:

    You guys are missing the forest for the trees. Buchanan’s chief problem here is not the campaign finance violations.

    Buchanan and his attorney attempted to coerce Karzan into proferring false testimony (via an affidavit) in return for settlement of a legal dispute. That is a pretty clear violation of 18 USC ยง 1512(b)(1), and this Karzan guy submitted the affidavit, signed by both Buchanan and his attorney, as evidence.

    This is why Justice is involved, and it will likely be the arrow that brings him down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  9. Tony Varouj says:

    Almost all Republicans in Washington D.C., are corrupt and dishonest, so I’m not surprised about Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan being corrupt and a lire.
    Mitt Romney should apologize to President Obama for running such a corrupt and dishonest campaign and let the President Obama to win the second term more smoothly and romantically.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  10. Tony,

    If you think corruption and dishonesty in Washington is limited to Republicans you are either incredibly naive, or blindly partisan

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  11. Tony Varouj says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I think you are BLIND and NAIVE like many other Republicans, who are destroying this beautiful country of ours. You should educate yourself more, before making any more comments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2