One of Vern Buchanan's most persistent nemeses is asking the U.S. Justice Department to open another investigation of the congressman.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on Monday wrote the Justice Department, requesting it investigate allegations that Buchanan broke federal law by omitting certain positions he holds and income from his financial disclosure reports. The Office of Congressional Ethics last week reported it had found 17 positions that had been included on the list and more than $14,000 in income over four years that had not been properly reported.
Buchanan, who has denied wrongdoing, later amended the reports, saying the omissions were the result of "oversights."
The House Ethics Committee is reviewing the OCE report to determine whether to open a formal investigation.
“Rep. Buchanan’s list of crimes is seemingly unending," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW. "There is already a criminal investigation into whether he violated campaign finance laws, and last August we had asked DOJ to explore whether he had also engaged in witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and bribery. Now it seems the congressman may have added false statements to his portfolio.”
Buchanan's campaign dismissed CREW's complaint.
“CREW is a left-wing, partisan attack group funded by George Soros and run by Democrat operatives,” said campaign spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts.
(For a critical look at CREW's activities, including how it has filed more complaints against Republicans than Democrats, read this website.)
CREW was a driving force behind earlier allegations that Buchanan had directed a former business partner to improperly reimburse employees for contributions they had made to Buchanan's campaigns. The Federal Elections Commission investigated and last year closed its case without pursuing action against Buchanan.
Buchanan's attorneys have acknowledged that the Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation on whether Buchanan broke campaign finance laws. Justice does not comment on pending investigations.
Sloan said leaving the alleged disclosures violations to the Ethics Committee is "insufficient."
"First, who can have any confidence in a committee itself under an ethics investigation?" Sloan said. " In any event, deliberately filing false (personal financial disclosures) isn’t just an ethics violation, it is a federal crime.”
Buchanan is one of 10 Republicans four Democrats on its 2011 list of the "most corrupt " members of Congress. He was also on the 2008 and 2009 versions of the list.
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