On February 9, 2012, the Office of Congressional Ethics transmitted a referral to the Committee on Ethics of the United States House of Representatives regarding Representative Vern Buchanan.
Nature of Review
Representative Vern Buchanan's former business partner claims that Representative Buchanan made a $2.9 million lawsuit settlement agreement contingent on the business partner signing a false affidavit to be filed with the Federal Election Commission ("FEC"). The affidavit was related to allegations that individuals who contributed to Vern Buchanan for Congress received reimbursements from automobile dealerships owned by Representative Buchanan. If Representative Buchanan attempted to influence the testimony of a witness in a preceding before the FEC in the manner alleged, he may have violated 18 U.S.C. §§ 201, 1505, and 1512, and House Rule 23, clause 1.
OCE Recommendation The Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended that the Committee on Ethics further review the above allegations because there is substantial reason to believe that Representative Buchanan attempted to influence the testimony of a witness in a proceeding before the FEC in violation of 8 U.S.C. §§ 201, 1505, and 1512, and House Rule 23, clause 1.
Committee Conclusion On May 9, 2012, the Committee on Ethics released a statement indicating it would continue to gather information necessary to complete its review. The Committee published the OCE report and findings and announced the allegations would be further reviewed pursuant to the Committee Rule 18(a).
On June 24, 2016, the Committee released a report concluding evidence was insufficient to find that Representative Buchanan attempted to improperly influence the testimony of his former business partner before the FEC. However, the Committee cautioned Representative Buchanan to exercise more diligence over his campaign affairs. In addition, the Committee concluded that three car dealerships partly owned by Representative Buchanan illegally reimbursed their employees for contributions to Representative Buchanan’s House campaigns. However, the Committee said evidence was insufficient to conclude that Representative Buchanan was aware of the unlawful reimbursements when they were made or had a role in directing or approving them.