In response, Buchanan launched his own air attack on Fitzgerald's ethics and record as a Florida state representative, with a new ad soon to hit your TVs.
Here is a Buchanan news release on the ad:
Congressman Vern Buchanan today launched a new TV ad in Tampa and Sarasota markets that blasts Keith Fitzgerald's false and dishonest attacks and exposes an ethics complaint accusing Fitzgerald of failing to disclose his conflict of interest as a state legislator.
The ad, entitled "Serving Himself" opens with an announcer informing viewers that Fitzgerald is falsely attacking Buchanan to hide his own ethical lapses while he was a member of the state Legislature. Fitzgerald faces an ethics complaint for failing to disclose, as required by state law, his conflict of interest in voting on millions of dollars for his employer, the New College of Florida. Fitzgerald is a professor at the college who has been granted lifetime tenure.
Section 3.2 of Florida House Ethics Laws requires legislators to disclose their conflict of interest in voting on "any measure that the member knows or believes would inure to the special private gain or loss of: any principal by whom the member or the member's spouse, parent, or child is retained or employed."
In Fitzgerald's case, he voted on six separate budgets as a state legislator that appropriated millions of taxpayer funds to his employer, New College of Florida. In all cases, Fitzgerald failed to disclose his conflict of interest within the mandatory 15-day reporting period.
Fitzgerald's behavior also prompted a sharp rebuke from FL Sen. John Thrasher -- the author of legislation banning university employees from serving in the state legislature: "It isn't rocket science," said Thrasher. "Citizens expect better from elected officials and it is disappointing that we find ourselves having to address this problem with individuals running for public office."
The Buchanan ad is in direct response to a Fitzgerald commercial that maligned the congressman and falsely claimed Buchanan is under federal investigation. Buchanan's two previous ads were entirely about the congressman's jobs agenda and vision for the future.
"It doesn't matter whether Vern is up by 20 points in the polls or more, Fitzgerald will be held accountable to the truth and his attacks will not go unanswered," said campaign spokesman Max Goodman. "Just because Fitzgerald is desperate and trailing doesn't give him the right to smear Vern with patently dishonest attacks."
National Democrats have reportedly cancelled $230,000 in TV ads against Rep. Vern Buchanan, shifting the money away from "long shots" to "more promising targets." The move comes after Buchanan was cleared by the Justice Department of false accusations and after prominent pundit Larry Sabato downgraded the Democrats' chances of beating Buchanan.