A car dealership and a former business partner of Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, have been in hot water recently with the Federal Election Commission. A Jacksonville Hyundai dealership — once co-owned by Buchanan and Sam Kazran — was fined nearly $68,000 for using dealership funds to reimburse employees that contributed to Buchanan’s 2006 and 2008 campaigns. The reimbursements violated excessive contribution and campaign laws.
In a court filing, the FEC said the reimbursements were part of an “extensive and ongoing scheme” to funnel “secret, illegal contributions” to the campaigns. The FEC initially filed suit over the contributions in December.
In newly filed court documents, Kazran says that not only did Buchanan know about the ethics violations, he ordered them.
Kazran, in his first interview with the Herald-Tribune, said Wednesday Buchanan warned him repeatedly there would be “consequences” if he went to the media or federal authorities.
“He told me, ‘Sam I’m going to be governor one day and you’ll want me to be on your side,’” Kazran said. “He’s put so much pressure on me. I’m just a regular joe who went into business with him. I didn’t want to get into some political war with him.”
“Kazran is desperate and disgruntled after being sued by Vern for failing to repay a $3 million business loan,” Buchanan spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts told the Herald-Tribune. “An FEC investigation determined that Kazran, not Vern, violated federal campaign finance laws. The Buchanan campaign brought Kazran’s misconduct to the attention of the FEC nearly three years ago. So it is no wonder that he is now lashing out with false and ludicrious accusations.”
From Kazran’s new filing:
Mr. Buchanan … represented that, Quote” I need to raise one million dollars by end of quarter, it’s not going to have the same impact if it came from me.” Mr. Buchanan went on to describe how a colleague had invested several million dollars of personal funds only to received 11% of the votes.
Kazran also alleges that Buchanan, in a voicemail, warned him of the consequences “should he chose to disclose his knowledge [sic].” Kazran goes on to say that Buchanan “delivered on his promise and promptly caused Bank of America (Defendants lender) to declare default on the Defendants companies which gave rise to the destruction of Defendants businesses.”
In perhaps his most striking allegation, Kazran says that he was asked to “sign an affidavit prepared by Mr. Buchanan to make false representations under oath to assist Mr. Buchanan in his campaign contribution controversy.” After he refused, Kazran says he was told, “Sam you have five minutes to sign this affidavit or the contract is canceled.”
The affidavit and court filing are below: