Vern Buchanan under investigation for campaign finance violations

Vern Buchanan under investigation for campaign finance violations

Florida City : FL : USA | Jun 24, 2012 at 12:52 AM PDT
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Vern Buchanan

Congressman, Rep. Vern Buchanan, who is in charge of fundraising for the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee is facing four congressional and federal investigations for unethical business practices, campaign finances and alleged attempt to stop a witness from breaking silence.

Now, as the witnesses step forward, Buchanan’s former business partner, Sam Kazran claims that the congressman, who was a former car dealership owner, asked him to encourage employees to make straw donations to the lawmaker. Kazran claims that Buchanan not only schemed to launder money from his car dealerships to his campaign but also tried to convince others to cover up his wrongdoings, according to report by CNN.

Kazran told CNN that he respected and believed Buchanan at the time their partnership started, but soon found out that he wanted nothing but money and power. He called Buchanan a ‘selfish person’ who is not trying to do any good for the people he represents by being in the Congress.

Among other things, Kazran highlighted a cash swap scheme to finance Buchanan’s campaigns, in which employees were forced to write checks and were reimbursed from Buchanan’s car dealership’s cash. "It was to a point where I said, 'Chief, we can't give you this kind of money. At which point he said, 'Just run it through the corporation,'" Kazran said. "What he said to me was 'Get people to write a check to the campaign and then pay them back through the corporation.'"

Kazran says he did what he was asked to and soon nearly $70,000 had been directed to Buchanan’s campaigns, in the form of big checks. "I remember one of the partners jokingly saying, 'Boss, you have all the money in the world. Why do you want us to pay you the money?' And he said, 'Well, it doesn't look good if it's coming from me,'" Kazran said.

Buchanan denies all allegations, calling Kazran a disgruntled partner who is making up a story to get even. Federal Election Commission’s initial report stated that Buchanan “knowingly and willfully” violated federal election laws. However, in a later report, FEC said it found credibility problems with both Kazran and Buchanan, and has not found enough evidence to support Kazran’s testimony.

However, things got a fresh twist when Buchanan allegedly tried to settle the lawsuit with Kazran for $2.9 million, asking him to sign an affidavit that said whatever Kazran had claimed so far was a lie. While Kazran desperately needed money for his wife’s cancer treatment, he refused to sign it and took the affidavit to the federal investigators.

Buchanan has denied asking Kazran to sign the affidavit. He did not fully respond to any of the questions and quickly walked away from the media cameras after his hearing.

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Vern Buchanan
Vern Buchanan
From: James Lawson-Smith
Wendy Zachary is based in Texas, Texas, United States of America, and is a Reporter on Allvoices.
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