Campaign 2010

Feb 19, 2013

Does the Robber Have Keys to the Bank?

Embattled former used car salesman Congressman Vern Buchanan – a member of the Ways and Means Committee charged with writing America's tax code – was accused of tax fraud in testimony by his former Chief Financial Officer.

In an explosive, videotaped deposition to the Internal Revenue Service obtained by WTSP-Tampa which aired last night, Sal Rosa, the former CFO of Congressman Vern Buchanan's auto dealership, states that:

  • Congressman Buchanan was "illegally reimbursing employees who contributed to his campaign as well as illegally taking business deductions for his airplane, and avoiding paying taxes on the yacht he owned.” Rosa said, “I took the position then and still take the position that this is tax fraud;"
  • Congressman Buchanan was "essentially operating a financial Ponzi scheme where he took money out of one dealership to invest in another dealership, took money out of that dealership to invest in another dealership," and is guilty of federal crimes including mail fraud, bank fraud and racketeering; 
  • Congressman Buchanan was involved in housing and supporting illegal immigrants, costing him an ambassadorship in the Bush Administration

"Sarasota residents have known for a long time that Congressman Vern Buchanan can't be trusted -- but with these latest allegations of tax fraud and federal racketeering crimes, Congressman Buchanan certainly should not be entrusted with oversight of our nation's tax code," said David Bergstein of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "We wouldn't give the keys to the vault to a bank robber, and we shouldn't put Congressman Buchanan in charge of the same tax system he stands accused of defrauding. Congressman Buchanan should finally come clean to his constituents about his long, long record of nefarious conduct." 

WATCH THE STORY HERE

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

 

CNN: Congressman Buchanan could be “serving his next term behind bars.”  “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.” [CNN, 06/23/12

 

House Ethics Investigating Congressman Buchanan for Potential Violations of Federal Bribery, Obstruction, and Witness Tampering Laws. “The report asks the Ethics Committee to consider whether Buchanan violated federal bribery, obstruction and witness tampering laws -- all of which have criminal penalties. It also says there's ‘substantial reason to believe’ Buchanan violated House rules of conduct requiring members behave at all times ‘in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.’ […] The Office of Congressional Ethics report also notes that they were ‘unable to discuss with Representative Buchanan his involvement, if any, with directing reimbursements of campaign contributions because he refused to cooperate with the OCE Review.’” [Bradenton Herald, 5/09/12]

 

Congressman Buchanan Was Under Investigation by the FBI, IRS, a Federal Grand Jury, and the Department of Justice. “Federal inquiries surrounding Mr. Buchanan appear to be widening, as investigators examine allegations that his companies improperly reimbursed contributors to his campaigns and claimed improper tax deductions and that he failed to include all his varied financial interests in his Congressional disclosure reports […] agents for the F.B.I. and the Internal Revenue Service recently contacted former employees alleging financial improprieties by Mr. Buchanan, who owns a number of auto dealerships throughout Florida and elsewhere and is one of the richest members of Congress. A federal grand jury in Tampa is hearing evidence in the case as well.” The Bradenton Herald reported, “The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating complaints that U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan broke campaign finance laws — the same allegations for which the Federal Elections Commission has already cleared the congressman after a two-year investigation.” [New York Times, 2/24/12; Bradenton Herald, 10/18/11]

FEC Said that Buchanan “More Likely Than Not” Violated Federal Election Laws.  The Federal Election’s Commission’s “investigation went back to 2005, when Buchanan began his first campaign for the 13th Congressional District. Former employees for some of Buchanan’s car dealerships alleged they were pressured to donate to Buchanan’s campaign and were later reimbursed. Pressuring employees to give donations and reimbursing them are both against federal election laws […] According to the FEC general counsel’s final report, the evidence in the case ‘comes close to supporting a finding that it is more likely than not’ that Buchanan had violated federal election laws.” [Sarasota Tribune Herald, 1/20/12]

In December 2012, Buchanan Spent Over $350,000 on Legal Fees.  In December 2012, Buchanan reported paying $350,000 in campaign funds to Patton Boggs and an additional $4295.40 to Holland & Knight for “legal fees.” [FEC.gov, accessed 2/19/13]


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