CREW Statement on Ethics Committee Decision to Clear Rep. Vern Buchanan
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Ethics announced it would take no further action regarding allegations that Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) inaccurately reported positions he held and income he received on his annual financial disclosure statements between 2007 and 2010.
In response, CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan issued the following statement:
It is ridiculous that just one day after the Ethics Committee announced it would be forming an investigative subcommittee to investigate Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), it took a pass on Rep. Buchanan. It is unfathomable how the Ethics Committee could punt on Rep. Buchanan – a repeat offender – while continuing its investigation of Rep. Berkley’s potential offenses. Rep. Buchanan has a well-documented history of lying to avoid accountability. Nevertheless, the Ethics Committee just takes this proven liar at his word when he declares the errors were inadvertent.
The Ethics Committee rationalizes its decision by noting 30-50% of the disclosure forms reviewed include errors. Since when is ‘everybody does it’ a legitimate excuse for breaking the law? Did Congress repeal the False Statements Act, which makes lying on the forms a criminal offense, when we weren’t looking? Apparently, the rules governing financial disclosures are merely ‘suggestions.’ Once again, the Ethics Committee covers up for an unethical member of Congress and the public loses out.
Rep. Buchanan may have avoided punishment this time, but hopefully he’ll be he held accountable by a jury of his peers in the near future.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Jordan Libowitz at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.