U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan has loaned his re-election campaign $250,000, as he braces for what increasingly looks like will be a heated battle versus Keith Fitzgerald for the local seat in Congress, according to his campaign and the Federal Elections Commission.
Without the loan, filings would have shown that Fitzgerald's campaign took in more contributions than Buchanan's during the first three months of the year.
The loan -- or as the Buchanan campaign termed it, the "investment" -- makes up a bulk of the $484,000 the campaign reported raising in the first quarter of 2012. In all, Buchanan has raised $1,762,681, finishing after expenses with $1,473,199 cash on hand, as of March 31, according to the FEC.
"It's clear that we will have the resources to spread our positive message of hope and opportunity," spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts said in a statement. "We are appreciative of the tremendous support for Vern's agenda of creating jobs and growing the economy."
Tibbetts added that the loan shows the "personal commitment Vern brings to changing Washington and restoring prosperity to America."
Not counting the loan, Buchanan raised $234,000 in contributions during the first three months of the year -- $57,000 less than the $291,000 collected by Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald, who entered the race in October, has raised a total of $516,220, and after expenses finished the quarter with $422,360, according to the FEC.
In a news release Monday, Fitzgerald's campaign said the fund-raising reports show it is gaining momentum among voters in the 16th Congressional District.
Fitzgerald indicated last week that how Buchanan funds his campaigns will be an issue in this election. In this election cycle, Buchanan has accepted more than $462,000 in contributions from political action committees, or PACs, compared to $92,600 collected by Fitzgerald.
"Unfortunately, Vern Buchanan has become a living breathing example of everything that is wrong with Congress. Taking huge amounts of money from every big special interest Washington has to offer and riddled with more scandals than any other member of Congress, Vern Buchanan is the problem. With the help of so many supporters, we will solve that problem in November."
For a detailed look at the the candidates' campaign finance disclosures, including a list of donors, visit the Federal Elections Commission website.