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Suit filed over Buchanan contributions

The Federal Election Commission has filed a lawsuit against a Jacksonville auto dealer for reimbursing employees and others for almost $68,000 in campaign contributions to Rep. Vern Buchanan’s election campaigns in violation of federal law.

The reimbursements were made during the 2006 and 2008 election cycles, according to the lawsuit.

Buchanan, R-Sarasota, was not named in the lawsuit. Defendants were listed as dealership owner Sam Kazran, also known as Sam Khazrawan, and Hyundai of North Jacksonville.

Kazran and his dealership were cited in the complaint for making contributions in the name of another and making excessive contributions.

Buchanan’s campaign staff released a statement Monday saying Buchanan’s campaign brought this matter to the FEC’s attention more than two years ago.

“Since neither Congressman Buchanan nor his campaign are parties to the litigation, we cannot comment any further,” the statement said.

The federal complaint said that the contributions to the Buchanan campaign were in excess of contribution limits for each election cycle.

Hyundai of North Jacksonville contributed $49,500 to the campaign during the 2006 cycle, in violation of the $2,100 maximum allowed, the lawsuit said.

The dealership contributed $18,400 in the 2008 election cycle, exceeding the $2,300 maximum, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Jacksonville.

In 2004, Kazran acquired a 49 percent interest in the dealership from Buchanan. Kazran acquired the remaining 51 percent interest in the dealership in 2008 and became sole owner, according to the lawsuit.

Beginning in 2005, Kazran arranged for dealership employees and others to contribute to the Buchanan campaign and to reimburse them with dealership funds, the lawsuit said.

Calls to auto dealer Sam Kazran at Hyundai of North Jacksonville indicated that phone service had been disconnected.

Multiple Jacksonville media outlets have previously reported that several of Kazran’s dealerships have been closed due to bankruptcy.

Florida Department of State records indicate Hyundai of North Jacksonville is inactive.

In September 2008, Buchanan filed a suit in Duval County against Kazran for failure to repay a $2.5 million loan. Kazran countered in a lawsuit claiming fraud against Buchanan in past dealings.

A spokeswoman at the Federal Elections Commission said Monday she was unable to comment on the pending legal action.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.