Despite reports that the Federal Election Commission had doubts about the credibility of Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, during its investigation into campaign finance violation allegations against him, the Republican Party of Sarasota County is standing behind him.

Yesterday, TPM Muckraker published an FEC report that shed light on the commission’s investigation into allegations about donations made to Buchanan’s 2006 and 2008 campaigns.

As first reported by The Florida Independent, the FEC charged that Buchanan’s former business partner, Sam Kazran, and a dealership the two once co-owned had violated campaign laws by using funds from the company “to reimburse [dealership] employees, Kazran’s business partners, their family members and Kazran’s relatives for $67,900 in contributions to Buchanan’s 2006 and 2008 Congressional campaigns.”

Though Buchanan was never charged in the case, the FEC report reveals that many at the agency had doubts about his innocence.

“It is improbable that Buchanan’s attorneys drafted the affidavit and presented it to [Sam] Kazran without Buchanan’s involvement considering that (1) the affidavit did not concern the subject of the commercial negotiations, but rather Buchanan’s knowledge of reimbursed contributions to [Vern Buchanan Federal Campaign], and (2) it was presented to a former Buchanan partner who, according to respondents, was threatening to go to Buchanan’s political opponent or the Commission before the 2008 election with his allegation that Buchanan ordered him to reimburse contributions,” states the report.

In a press release sent out today, Republican Party of Sarasota Chairman Joe Gruters said that “Vern’s political enemies” are attempting to distort the report.

“As we all expected, Congressman Buchanan has been completely exonerated by the Federal Elections Commission in a case involving campaign donations from 2006,” said Gruters. “A new report this week reveals that the FEC voted 5-0 — including three Democrats — to dismiss the case against Buchanan. Not even close! Of course, Vern’s political enemies may try to distort the report, but the bottom line is the Commission voted unanimously to clear Vern of any wrongdoing!”

Gruters was Buchanan’s campaign manager at the time the allegations occurred.

Buchanan is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice and the Office of Congressional Ethics regarding the same allegations.

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