Sep 28, 2012

Will Vern Buchanan Return Tens of Thousands in Tainted Campaign Cash?

Congressman Vern Buchanan (FL-16) took tens of thousands in tainted cash raised from two corrupt scandal plagued fundraisers who were just convicted of an illegal campaign finance scheme that benefited Buchanan’s campaign coffers. Will Congressman Buchanan continue to hold on to at least $84,000 in tainted cash to bankroll his struggling campaign or will he disassociate himself from his friend and give the money back?

The Justice Department convicted a prominent fundraiser and friend of Congressman Buchanan for illegally disguising contributions and “reimbursing the donations with corporate funding.”
 
“Now that two fundraisers for Congressman Vern Buchanan’s campaign are guilty of an illegal campaign finance scheme involving Congressman Vern Buchanan’s campaign, will Congressman Buchanan return this tainted campaign cash?” asked Stephanie Formas of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “First, the Federal Election Commission found that Congressman Buchannan ‘more likely than not’ violated federal law for an illegal campaign finance scheme involving his car dealerships and now we find out that a long time friend of Congressman Buchanan was convicted of a similar scandal. Suncoast families are tired of turning on the television to find Congressman Buchanan who has spent his time in Congress building a record of scandal.”  
 
Congressman Buchanan’s campaign has “long been plagued by allegations of fundraising irregularities,” and Congressman Buchanan was previously under a FEC investigation that found he “more likely than not” violated federal election laws for his involvement in another campaign finance scheme.  Three of Buchanan’s businesses were fined for nearly $100,000 for accepting these illegal donations.
 
Background
 
A Prominent Buchanan Fundraiser Pleaded Guilty for Illegally Funneling $84,300 to Buchanan’s campaign.  “A prominent Tampa campaign donor to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan could face up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to funneling $94,300 to Buchanan’s campaigns for Congress and the Republican Party of Florida […]The Justice Department only identified the representative as “Federal Elected Official A.” But using Federal Election Commission donation records, the Herald-Tribune has determined that the federal official is Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican running for re-election in November.” [Sarasota Herald Tribune, 8/27/12]
 
Mobley Homes Employees Gave $105,000 to No Other Candidate Other Than Vern Buchanan. “Mobley admitted that from March 2006 to October 2008 he disguised donations by recruiting and providing money to employees of his businesses and to one employee’s family members, the Justice Department said in a statement released to the media late Thursday. Mobley also admitted to reimbursing the donations with corporate funding that he disguised as “legitimate bonus compensation or advances on bonus compensation,” the Justice Department statement said [...] FEC records show Mobley, his family and employees of his business, Mobley Homes, combined to donate $105,000 Buchanan’s campaigns for Congress from 2005 to 2008. From 2006 to 2008, the period the Justice Department focused on, no employees at Mobley Homes gave to any member of Congress other than Buchanan, FEC records show.” [Sarasota Herald Tribune, 8/27/12]

Three Buchanan Owned Businesses Previously Fined Nearly $100,000 for Illegal Campaign Contributions. “Three Buchanan-owned businesses have been cited since 2008 of illegally reimbursing employees for making donations to his campaigns. In August 2010, the FEC fined Buchanan’s Venice Dodge Nissan $11,000 for reimbursing car dealership employees for making donations to Buchanan’s 2006 congressional campaign. In December 2011, the FEC fined another car dealership Buchanan used to own in Pasco County, called Suncoast Ford, and Buchanan’s partner there, $15,500 for illegally reimbursing employees for donation to Buchanan. Also in 2011, the FEC fined Hyundai of North Jacksonville, another former Buchanan-owned dealership, $67,900 for illegally reimbursing employees for making donations to Buchanan’ 2006 and 2008 campaigns.” [Sarasota Herald Tribune, 8/27/12]

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]


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