In an order filed yesterday in a U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Judge Roy Dalton fined a car dealership once owned by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, nearly $68,000 for illegal campaign contributions.
The FEC initially filed suit against Sam Kazran (a former business partner of Buchanan’s) and Hyundai of North Jacksonville (an almost completely dissolved car dealership once co-owned by the two men) in December 2010, for allegedly reimbursing employees who donated to Buchanan’s 2006 and 2008 congressional campaigns, in violation of two campaign laws.
This latest filing might be good news for Kazran, as it could be an attempt to end the case without actually fining him. Though Buchanan has been named in at least 14 lawsuits brought by former employees (each alleging pressure to donate to his campaigns, with the promise of reimbursements) the congressman hasn’t been named as a defendant in an FEC case.
At a recent court hearing, Judge Dalton shot down Kazran’s motion to add Buchanan to the case. FEC representatives present at that hearing explained that they hope to review Kazran’s financial assets, take a deposition and then “determine the appropriate penalty” before moving ahead with a fine against him.
As previously reported by The Florida Independent, Judge Dalton once worked as legal counsel for GOP Sen. Mel Martinez, a Buchanan confidante.
Though Kazran said he was unaware of the ruling when reached for comment on Thursday, he did seem relieved the fine wasn’t directed at him.
“It appears that the FEC wants to completely shift away from me and they dont want to get Vern dragged in, so they want to hold the dealership responsible … to say that they’ve closed the case and moved on,” said Kazran.
View the filing in full: