The House Ethics Committee has chosen to extend an investigation into Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota.
The Florida Independent first broke the story of an ethics review of Buchanan in October, when a source provided us with documentation confirming the preliminary investigation into allegations that Buchanan had reimbursed employees who donated to his 2006 and 2008 congressional campaigns.
It is currently unclear whether this extended investigation is related to those same allegations.
The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday that it was extending an inquiry into a complaint again Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) by 45 days, the committee’s first public acknowledgement that it was pursuing a probe involving Buchanan.
The top Republican and Democrat on the panel announced a joint decision to look further into claims against Buchanan brought to them by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) on Nov. 8. The Ethics Committee was up against a deadline to either extend the matter by another 45 days or publicly disclose the complaint that OCE had transmitted to them.
No indication was given as to the nature of the probe.
The investigation comes on the heels of an FEC suit over a pattern of questionable contributions made to Buchanan’s 2006 and 2008 campaigns. Though the congressman wasn’t named as a defendent, his former business partner and a car dealership the two once co-owned were accused of offering reimbursements for money donated to his campaign and of violating excessive contribution laws.
The FEC eventually called the activity an “extensive and ongoing scheme” and fined his former dealership almost $68,000; Buchanan himself was never found to be at fault. But a recently leaked FEC report reveals that some members did doubt his innocence.
According to its website, the House Committee on Ethics has the jurisdiction to “recommend administrative actions to establish or enforce standards of official conduct” and must “report to appropriate federal or state authorities substantial evidence of a violation of any law applicable to the performance of official duties that may have been disclosed in a Committee investigation.”
This piece has been updated to reflect changes to the original story published in The Hill.