by Benjamin J. Kirby
Really, really bad news for thug Congressman Vern Buchanan in the New York Times:
The Federal Election Commission has already completed one investigation that produced a settlement this week with a former partner of Mr. Buchanan’s who used their car dealership to reimburse employees for contributing to the congressman’s campaigns, in violation of federal law.
The commission dropped its case against Mr. Buchanan himself over the reimbursements, despite testimony that he took part in the scheme. But 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 thoughout 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, according to several people with knowledge of the inquiries.
A federal grand jury, really?
You know, I'd just take a moment to remind you that Congressman Buchanan is the Finance Chair for the National Republican Congressional Commitee (NRCC). The entire job of the NRCC is to increase their ranks in the House of Representatives. It's a political unit, and as Finance Chair, Vern Buchanan is basically in charge of fund-raising for the Committee.
I can't really overstate how much trouble Buchanan -- and the Republicans -- are in at this point. They've done a good job of sticking with him, I'll give them that:
“Congressman Buchanan has been a valuable part of our success in raising the resources we need,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Paul Lindsay. “This committee has always maintained a strict legal compliance with the letter and the spirit of the law.”
Sarasota Republican Party Chairman Joe Gruters chimed in. “Vern is probably one of the most respected elected officials in South West Florida,” he said. “I actually feel bad for Vern that as a result of his success and him trying to give of himself to the country, they’re trying to drag him through the mud.”
Federal investigations into misdeed by the Congressman in his own campaign dealings could easily trickle over into his work of the NRCC. After all, if he's strong-arming his employees into giving to his own campaign, imagine what he's willing to do for a group like the NRCC.
Well, I think Keith said it best. From his Facebook page:
I have always looked at what Vern Buchanan has done with sadness and deep disappointment. Because whatever the final judgment on Vern Buchanan having broken the law, Vern Buchanan has broken faith with the people of our community.
But the longer this continues, the more disgusted I feel. Corruption is poisoning our Congress and that corruption is saddling our nation with a crippling debt - a debt that our children, my children will have to carry. As long as powerful special interests are able to control the corridors of power in our Capitol, they will continue to shape the tax code to gain unfair advantage and the treasury to feed their greed. All the while leaving our government in a condition of gridlock.
It's time to drain the swamp.
Time to drain the damn swamp, indeed.
And just to make sure the record is straight with respect to the Washington Post piece (linked above), yeah, Buchanan has raised a lot more than Keith (legally, we assume... for the moment). But as wasnoted by Jeremy Wallace in the Herald-Tribune:
...Fitzgerald has turned some heads of his own by raising more than $224,000. He collected more money in three months than Buchanan’s 2010 Democratic challenger did in 18 months.
Since Oct. 1, Fitzgerald also has raised more money from individual donors than Buchanan. Fitzgerald has received $214,000 from individuals, compared with $190,000 for Buchanan.