Sunday, June 05, 2011

Vern Buchanan: Man of Values

"I will work to promote traditional family values and I will be a strong defender of life," said Vern Buchanan.

Apparently, Buchanan went to the Ray Sansom school of values. How else can one explain Buchanan reimbursing employees Venice Nissan Dodge dealership for campaign contributions to his Congressional campaign.

On Oct. 17, federal records show, Buchanan refunded $5,000 that had been donated in 2005 by five men — all former employees at Buchanan's Venice Nissan Dodge dealership. They included Carlo Bell, the former finance director, who in 2008 joined a federal complaint alleging Buchanan pressured employees to donate $1,000 to his campaign in exchange for $1,000 in cash.

Buchanan's office claimed that he never pressured or funneled his own money to his campaign through his employees. Buchanan is paying back the campaign contributions that the former employees gave. Buchanan's office claims this is normal. Politicians would rather give away their first-born than part with campaign cash. We are to believe that the refund to Carlo Bell had nothing to do with Bell's federal complaint alleging he was pressured to donate to Buchanan's campaign.

Team Buchanan would have you believe that refunding $10,000 to Dean Morgan, chairman of Vistage is perfectly normal. Mr. Morgan has been quite generous to Mr. Buchanan during to 2010 election cycle. The question is was it Mr. Morgan's money or Mr. Buchanan's money that he gave to Mr. Morgan to give to Buchanan's campaign.

What happened was Buchanan was behind in fundraising in the run-up to the 2006 Republican primary.

The donations that have now been refunded came at a critical time in Buchanan's 2005 campaign, when he was locked in a tight race with Republican Tramm Hudson to succeed U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris in Congress.

From July 1 to Sept. 22, Buchanan had raised $296,000, which had him trailing Hudson.

But in late September, checks from Bell and the other Venice dealership donors started to pour in. From Sept. 23 to Sept. 30, another $290,000 came into his campaign, including $110,000 from his businesses' employees and families. The surge helped Buchanan jump ahead of Hudson in fundraising and established him as the favorite.

A total of 11 Buchanan have filed suit claiming they were pressured to donate to the campaign and then get reimbursed by the candidate. The obvious question is why didn't Buchanan just donate the money to his campaign in his name. Rick Scott self-funded his campaign. Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney collected campaign contributions and donated their own money to their campaigns. If the allegations are true then Buchanan's mind-set was to be sneaky. Jesus would be so proud of Mr. Buchanan's values.

Update: The St. Petersburg Times reports that the employees were reimbursed for their campaign with cash. The use of cash would would not show up on bank records from the Buchanan campaign to the employees.



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