Newly filed Hillsborough County court documents offer a more detailed glimpse into the ongoing legal dispute between Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, and a former business partner who has alleged that Buchanan pressured employees at a car dealership the two owned to donate to Buchanan’s 2006 and 2008 campaigns, and then reimbursed them with company money.
Buchanan has been a magnet for controversy for months. Several former employees have alleged that he pressured them to donate, and Sam Kazran, Buchanan’s former business partner, claims that Buchanan himself orchestrated the scheme.
Buchanan has made little comment about the incidents, choosing instead to aggressively criticize Kazran’s reputation. But a set of legal documents from a lawsuit involving Kazran and Buchanan reveals that allegations against the congressman go beyond fraudulent campaign contributions.
In criticizing Kazran, Buchanan’s team often refers to a case filed in Hillsborough County, in which Kazran was slapped with a summary judgment for his failure to appear in court. Buchanan spokesperson Sally Tibbetts has called Kazran “desperate and disgruntled” and said that all of his claims against Buchanan are “false and ludicrous.” Buchanan’s team even sent out a 31-page stack of documents to various media outlets, in an attempt to reveal what they say is Kazan’s “checkered past.”
The Hillsborough County lawsuit makes no mention of the alleged FEC violations (for which Kazran was fined by the FEC, even though Buchanan was majority owner of the dealership at the time), but came about as a result of a business dispute between the two over a car dealership they once co-owned. Buchanan initially filed the suit in Hillsborough County over $624,061 that Kazran purportedly owes him.
Kazran filed an appeal following that judgment, arguing that he never received proper notification of the court proceedings and wasn’t able to properly defend himself. (The two men are party to suits in three different counties, which Kazran claims is Buchanan’s attempt to shop for a more favorable judge.)
In his appeal, Kazran alleges that Buchanan failed to:
(a) lawfully transfer his stocks after collecting some 900k in payments; (b) notify the Defendant prior to adding additional debt to the company; (c) notify the Defendant that plaintiff no longer intended to infuse capital in the company as unequivocally prescribed by the parties operating agreement; and (d) notify the Defendant prior to withdrawing 500k of the company’s operating capital for personal needs without consent of the Defendant.
Among the exhibits attached to the filing is an Option for Purchase Agreement, signed by Buchanan himself.
Read the full legal filing for yourself: