Two months after filing suit over allegations of questionable contributions made to the 2006 and 2008 campaigns of Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, the Federal Election Commission has released three letters it sent to the Buchanan campaign asking for more details on the matter.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (aka CREW), which twice named Buchanan to its list of the most corrupt members of Congress, spoke out about the letters in a Wednesday press release.

“The FEC isn’t messing around. Clearly investigators have serious questions into just how Rep. Buchanan is running his campaign committee,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Just two months ago, the FEC sued one of the congressman’s biggest contributors.  The clouds are starting to gather. Rep. Buchanan had better grab an umbrella; it looks like it’s about to rain.”

Buchanan has been named as a defendant in at least 13 lawsuits filed by former employees and business partners, all hinging on allegations that employees were pressured into donating to his campaign and then offered reimbursements from one of his car dealerships in return. So far, none of the suits have gone to trial. CREW filed its own complaint against Buchanan in August 2008, alleging campaign fraud. That case, like the others, remains unresolved.

The FEC letters are addressed to Joe Gruters, Buchanan’s treasurer and recent Republican Party of Florida chair candidate, and request “information essential to full public disclosure of your federal election campaign finances.” Responses are due by March 17 and 24, 2011.

“Today’s actions show that at least someone at the FEC is taking notice of Congressman Buchanan’s egregious behavior,” said CREW’s Sloan. “Whether or not the commission will actually act on the matter is another matter entirely. Don McGahn and the other Republican commissioners have made it perfectly clear that they are unwilling to enforce any campaign finance law violations, no matter how outrageous.”

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