Reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission show that U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, is starting out with a huge fund-raising lead in what is expected to be a general election battle next year with former state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald for the 13th District seat in Congress.
As of Sept. 30, Buchanan had more than $904,000 in cash on hand and zero debt.
Fitzgerald, a Sarasota Democrat who announced earlier this month after the most recent reporting deadline, reported zero contributions, zero expenditures and zero cash in the bank.
So far this year, Buchanan has raised more than $942,000. Almost two-thirds -- or almost $609,000 -- came from political action committees and the remainder from individuals, according to the FEC.
Buchanan in 2011 has spent almost $995,000, with almost $644,000 going to pay off personal loans Buchanan made to his campaign, according to reports.
Of the remaining $311,000, reports show $71,000 went to Patton Boggs, the Washington law firm representing Buchanan as he remains under investigation for possible campaign finance violations.
(The Federal Elections Commission has closed its investigation, finding no wrongdoing by Buchanan. However, Buchanan's campaign acknowledged earlier this month that the U.S. Justice Department is now investigating the matter.)