Early next week, embattled used car-salesman Vern Buchanan will have to testify under oath in Orlando in the ongoing investigations into his attempts to bribe a witness and force his employees to illegally launder campaign contributions through his car dealerships. Here are the top 10 questions Vern Buchanan should have to answer — the FBI, IRS, House Ethics Panel and the people of Florida will be waiting for Vern’s response.
1. Do you think it’s fair to the people of your district to run for re-election when you could potentially be serving your next term behind bars?
CNN, 6/23/2012: “But all that could be jeopardized. Federal investigations underway could result in Buchanan serving his next term behind bars.”
2. You have been described as “one of the most corrupt politicians” in Washington – what do you say to that?
Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, 2011: “Witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and bribery are all in a day’s work for the ethically challenged Rep. Vern Buchanan.”
3. Did you force employees at your used car dealerships to donate to your campaign?
WFLA, 8/4/2008: “Some employees were instructed to make a $1,000 contribution to Buchanan’s political campaign fund and were reimbursed in cash to avoid campaign finance law restrictions.”
4. Eric Cantor said “we cannot tolerate any ethics violations or behavior in terms of compromising the ethics the people expect us to have.” Do you agree?
National Review, 8/10/2010: “Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.), the GOP whip, tells National Review Online that House Republicans will push for a ‘zero-tolerance’ ethics policy ‘as Republicans emerge as a new, governing majority.'”
5. Did you or your lawyers illegally forge documents to win a court case?
WTSP 10 News, 6/29/12: “Congressman Buchanan was found last week to have submitted a forged document to a Hillsborough Court in connection with his former partner’s motion to vacate a final judgment obtained by one of Buchanan’s companies.”
6. Have you ever attempted to bribe or threaten a witness?
The Washington Post, 7/10/12: “The ethics panel continues to investigate allegations that Buchanan once offered to pay a former business partner $2.9 million if he agreed to sign a false affidavit claiming he knew nothing about plans to reimburse employees of Buchanan’s car dealership.”
7. Your employee Carlo Bell said he was given $1,000 in cash and told to write a check for $1,000 to your campaign. Is he lying?
WFLA, 8/20/2008: Carlo Bell, former Buchanan employee: “I was given a thousand dollars in cash and told to write a check for a thousand dollars to his campaign fund.”
8. Your partner Sam Kazran said employees were forced to write checks to your campaign and were reimbursed with funds from dealerships. Is he lying?
CNN, 6/23/2012: “At the center of Kazran’s allegations is a cash swap scheme used to finance some of Buchanan’s campaigns. He says employees were forced to write checks, then were reimbursed with cash drawn from Buchanan’s car dealerships.”
9. The FEC said the cash laundering was “not a mere error or lapse in judgment. It was an extensive and ongoing scheme.” Is the FEC lying?
Miami Herald, 5/31/2011: “The FEC is also asking the court for an injunction to prevent HNJ— which is no longer operating — from breaking the law again, arguing that it was ‘not a mere error or lapse in judgment. It was an extensive and ongoing scheme that spanned two election cycles, three calendar years and dozens of secret, illegal contributions.'”
10. Don’t the people of Sarasota deserve a Representative who’s focused on them — not trying to stay out of jail?