The Federal Elections Commission has dismissed complaints against U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, that he violated campaign finance laws, according to FEC letters released Monday by his campaign.
Specifically, the FEC found no evidence that Buchanan encouraged employees of a Jacksonville car dealership to make donations to his campaign that were later reimbursed by their employer in violation of federal law.
The FEC “concluded that the Hyundai dealership’s former owner, Sam Kazran, was responsible for violating campaign finance laws,” a news release from Buchanan’s campaign states.
Buchanan had notified the FEC of the questionable donations more than two years ago.
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“After considering the circumstances of the matter, the commission determined on Feb. 1, 2011, to take no further action and close the file as to Vernon G. Buchanan” regarding the Kazran-related contributions, a Feb. 7 FEC letter states.
The FEC also dismissed in a March 1 letter an unrelated complaint filed in 2008 by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) that alleged similar violations.
“The congressman has been completely exonerated, as we know he would be,” campaign spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts said in the news release. “These phony accusations have been exposed as dishonest and partisan attacks.”
The FEC letters were dated Feb. 7 and March 1 but had not been disclosed because of FEC confidentiality rules. The FEC allowed Buchanan to release them “in the face of bogus political attacks by Democrats,” his campaign said.
Democrats had recently gone on the offensive against Buchanan because of new disclosures in the case, including buying radio time in his 11th Congressional District.
They also called for him to resign as the chief fund-raiser for the House GOP caucus’s political operation.
Buchanan’s camp dismissed the Democrats’ efforts, arguing they were trying to distract attention from the sex scandal revolving around Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.
“The Democrats’ partisan attacks have now backfired in the face of Buchanan’s complete exoneration by the FEC,” Tibbetts said. “The Democrats and CREW have egg on their face and should be embarrassed by their cynical attacks.”