Vern Buchanan: Man of Values II
I blogged previously about accusations that Rep. Vern Buchanan pressured employees of his Venice Nissan Dodge dealership to donate to his Congressional campaign. Media reports are that Buchanan repaid the employees for their campaign contributions. Translation: Buchanan was funneling his own money through his employees. Federal Election Commission has filed suit and is seeking $67,900.
The Federal Election Commission has filed court documents in Orlando seeking a $67,900 penalty from the now-defunct dealership, Hyundai of North Jacksonville, which Buchanan partly owned until 2008.
In the May 27 filing, the FEC said dealership employees and their family members made more than 30 contributions to Buchanan’s campaign from 2005 to 2007, which the business then illegally reimbursed. Federal law prohibits secretly funneling donations through someone else, which allows the donor to evade contribution limits.
The FEC called the effort “an extensive and ongoing scheme that spanned two election cycles, three calendar years and dozens of secret illegal contributions.”
Buchanan claims he took no part in this. Buchanan says business partner Sam Kazran made the employees donate to Buchanan's campaigns. Kazran says that is not true.
Buchanan is not named as a defendant in the suit. The owner of the company said Tuesday he has acknowledged the company reimbursed employees, but said it was a “directive” issued by Buchanan.
“I’ve done nothing wrong,” said Sam Kazran, who said he told the FEC he was unfamiliar with campaign finance law. “I am not a politician, just a regular Joe. I had no idea.”
He said Buchanan told a group he needed to raise $1 million “to look good."
“It was ‘This is what I need to do and this is what you need to do to take care of it,'” Kazran told the Herald.
Buchanan and Kazran are accusing each other of wrongdoing. The question is who pays the fine. The suit was filed against the Venice Nissan Dodge dealership. The dealership went out of business. This is sure to get more interesting.