Vern Buchanan: New FEC Records Clear Campaign

Posted January 17, 2012 at 7:29pm

A lawyer for Rep. Vern Buchanan said new records released from the Federal Election Commission show he was not involved in illegal campaign contributions.

In February, FEC commissioners voted 5-0, with one recusal, to close an investigation into the Florida Republican’s campaign committee, but key documents were not available until recently.

“We are grateful that the public now can see for itself that the FEC’s three Democratic and two Republican Commissioners completely rejected these false and partisan allegations,” attorney William McGinley said in a statement.

The FEC had investigated whether three car dealerships partially owned by Buchanan illegally repaid employees for donating to his campaign.

In one instance, four employees of Suncoast Ford of Port Richey, Fla., each donated $4,600 to Buchanan’s 2008 re-election campaign and then were reimbursed by the dealership, breaking a law against pass-through donations. The FEC ordered Suncoast to pay a $7,000 fine.

Although Buchanan owned a majority stake in the dealership, he was not involved in its day-to-day operations, the documents said.

And in the vote, the FEC dropped charges that Buchanan’s campaign committee “knowingly received” the checks.

Buchanan is not out of the woods yet, however. The House Ethics Committee will release the results of a likely related investigation on Feb. 6.