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New developments in case alleging Rep. Buchanan campaign violations

According to a recently filed court document, donations made to the 2006 and 2008 campaigns of Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, were indeed reimbursed by funds from a Buchanan-owned car dealership, but were not intended to be back-door contributions. #

The Federal Election Commission filed suit over the contributions in December 2010, alleging that a company Buchanan owned and a former business partner had offered reimbursements for money donated to his campaign, and in doing so, had violated excessive contribution laws. #

The case was filed against a Jacksonville Hyundai dealership and its current owner, Sam Kazran. According to the complaint, Kazran owned a 49 percent share of the dealership till 2008, when he purchased Buchanan’s shares to become sole owner. According to the suit, Kazran used funds from the dealership to reimburse “at least $67,900 in purported individual contributions to [Vern Buchanan for Congress] during Buchanan’s 2006 and 2008 congressional campaigns.” #

In February,the FEC released three letters it sent to the Buchanan campaign, asking for more details on the matter. #

On April 25, Kazran filed a pleading as his answer (.pdf) to the allegations put forth in the complaint, admitting that, while the dealership did reimburse its employees for contributions made to Vern Buchanan’s campaign, it did so “without knowledge of Federal Election Commission rules.” Kazran also expressly denied that he had refused to respond to requests by the FEC, but admitted that he “did not submit a formal response to general counsel.” #

Though Kazran did admit to the reimbursements, he expressly denied that he had “arranged for employees to contribute to VBCF for Congress.” #

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