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Grand Jury Investigates Rep. Vern Buchanan

Bay News 9
Rep. Vern Buchanan faces FBI and IRS investigations, the Times reports.

A federal grand jury in Tampa is investigating Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan, according to a story today in the New York Times.

The Times cites several unnamed sources in revealing the grand jury inquiry.

It’s part of an FBI  and IRS investigation into whether Buchanan took part in a scheme to reimburse people who contributed to his campaign.

They’re also looking into whether Buchanan claimed tax deductions he wasn’t entitled to, and failed to disclose all his assets on Congressional financial disclosure forms.

The Federal Election Commission looked into these allegations and said there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue a case against Buchanan.

But the FEC investigation did find that Buchanan’s auto dealerships used corporate money to reimburse employees for contributions to his 2006 and 2008.

Some employees said they were reimbursed through cash “bonuses,” or offered trips on Mr. Buchanan’s corporate jet or to his Colorado home.

Buchanan’s lawyer denies the charges and calls the investigation a political witch hunt.

The Times points out that Buchanan recently became the House GOP's top fundraiser. Some poliitical observers say this could prove embarrassing for the Republican party.

Scott Finn is a former news director at WUSF Public Media, which provides in-depth reporting for Tampa Bay and all of Florida.
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