Florida Democrats have some advice for Republicans in the U.S. House: Dump Rep. Vern Buchanan from his leadership post in the GOP caucus' political operation.
Considering the source is the other side of the aisle that's not likely to happen. But the Dems' demand that Buchanan resign as vice chairman for finance of the National Republican Congressional Committee does show they are trying to put the Sarasota Republican on the defensive to charges that his election campaign collected illegal contributions from employees at one of his former auto dealerships.
The Bradenton Herald reported Thursday that the Federal Election Commission is asking a federal court to impose a $67,900 fine on a company formerly owned by Buchanan that it says engaged in an "extensive and ongoing scheme" to reimburse employees who contributed to Buchanan's congressional campaign. The co-owner of the business said Buchanan directed the operation.
Buchanan is not named as a defendant in the suit, but that isn't stopping Florida Democrats from holding him accountable.
“After being embroiled in an ‘extensive and ongoing scheme’ to break campaign finance rules, Congressman Vern Buchanan is the last person that should be running the finances for the National Republican Congressional Committee,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff in a statement.“It’s past time for Vern Buchanan to come clean about his role and for Republicans to live up to their promised a zero tolerance policy for Republican members caught in ethics scandals.”
UPDATED, June 2, 2011 -- Buchanan's campaign late Wednesday dismissed as "silly" the call for him to resign, "even from an outfit that managed to lose every statewide election in Florida last year"