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Sarasota Thu Jun 16, 2011 3 years ago

Buchanan exonerated in elections probe

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by: Robin Roy City Editor

The Federal Elections Commission has closed its case against Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-District 13, and will no longer pursue allegations the congressman knowingly accepted illegal campaign contributions.

“The Democrats’ partisan attacks have now backfired in the face of Buchanan’s complete exoneration by the FEC,” said campaign spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts.

An FEC spokesperson said although Buchanan, individually, has been cleared, the investigation continues into “other respondents.” However, she could not elaborate on who or what those other respondents may be because of the confidentiality of the probe.

The investigation began three years ago when Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a former employee of Buchanan’s Venice Nissan Dodge dealership, Carlo Bell, filed a complaint with the FEC, claiming several employees had been reimbursed $1,000 each for contributing to the congressman’s campaign, which is illegal.

Investigators then looked into similar allegations at a Jacksonville car dealership, which Buchanan co-owned.

Last year, FEC officials told Buchanan it had “reason to believe” he knowingly accepted illegal campaign contributions.

But earlier this year, the FEC informed the congressman it was ending its investigation into his involvement. Buchanan’s campaign was given permission this week to release a statement that he had been absolved of responsibility.

Buchanan’s campaign returned $5,000 in what it called “questionable contributions” last October.

Contact Robin Roy at rroy@yourobserver.com.

 

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