CREW Files FBI Complaint Against Rep. Vern Buchanan
Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the FBI to investigate Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) for witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and bribery. CREW’s complaint is based largely on the deposition testimony of Rep. Buchanan’s former car dealership business partner Sam Kazran. CREW also asked the House Office of Congressional Ethics to conduct an inquiry. Click here to read CREW’s letter to the FBI.
“The more you learn about Rep. Buchanan, the more morally bankrupt he appears,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Not content with merely coercing employees to participate in a conduit contribution scheme, he offered a former business partner nearly $3 million to lie under oath about it.”
According to Mr. Kazran and several former employees of Rep. Buchanan’s dealerships, partners and employees who made contributions to Rep. Buchanan’s congressional campaigns were reimbursed with corporate funds. CREW and two former Buchanan car dealership employees filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) regarding these allegations in August 2008.
During the course of the investigation into those allegations, the FEC deposed Mr. Kazran under oath. Mr. Kazran explained that sometime after Rep. Buchanan launched his first campaign for Congress in 2005, and after Mr. Kazran had contributed the legal maximum to the campaign, Rep. Buchanan suggested he have others write checks to the campaign and reimburse them through the car dealerships.
Mr. Kazran’s relationship with Rep. Buchanan soured in June 2008, and the two ended up in litigation. As part of a proposed settlement, Rep. Buchanan agreed to pay Mr. Kazran $2.9 million and to buy out Mr. Kazran’s share of a Kia dealership they were in the process of buying. A caveat to the agreement required Mr. Kazran to sign an affidavit -- under penalty of perjury -- attesting that Rep. Buchanan had no involvement in or knowledge of the contribution scheme. Another paragraph said Mr. Kazran consented to Rep. Buchanan filing the affidavit with the FEC. In his sworn deposition testimony, Mr. Kazran said because the information in the affidavit was untrue, he had refused to sign it and the settlement talks fell apart.
“There is no question Rep. Buchanan sought to have Mr. Kazran lie under oath. It’s right there in black and white in the text of the affidavit,” said Ms. Sloan. “By offering Mr. Kazran almost $3 million to sign a false affidavit to undermine the FEC’s investigation, Rep. Buchanan may have illegally engaged in witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and bribery. The FEC may have let Rep. Buchanan get away with this, but that doesn’t mean the FBI has to.”