A screen shot of "The Buchanan Files," as sent out by the Buchanan campaign.
Keith Fitzgerald has made a hallmark of his campaign to unseat Rep. Vern Buchanan, the several investigations of the congressman's campaign finances and business practices that Fitzgerald suggests make Buchanan ethically unqualified to be re-elected.
To help make his case, Fitzgerald's campaign has launched a new website, "The Buchanan Files," which includes links to print and television news accounts of the various probes.
In response, the Buchanan campaign has gone on the offensive, on Tuesday accusing Fitzgerald of hypocrisy for what it says are the same negative tactics he denounced in 2008 when he was running for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives,
"Fitzgerald's decision to make character assassination the central theme of his campaign is sad, disappointing and symbolic of everything that's wrong with politics today," said Buchanan spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts in a news release. "These types of sleazy attacks insult the intelligence of Florida voters and are why people hate Washington."
The Fitzgerald campaign did not officially launch the website until Tuesday, when the Bradenton Herald inquired about it after the Buchanan campaign sent out the news release denouncing it.
Offering itself as a place "to learn more about the real Vern Buchanan," the site is free of attacks on Buchanan. Instead, it has links to media accounts, including in the Bradenton Herald, of the various investigations of Buchanan. It also asks visitors to e-mail Buchanan "to come clean. Cooperate with federal investigators. Sit for your court-ordered deposition. And release your tax returns."
"Congressman Buchanan has refused to come clean with voters on his investigations and is clearly worried that more Suncoast families are hearing the truth about his ongoing corruption and ethical scandals," said Fitzgerald spokesman Adam Scott, in a statement."
"It is also very strange that Congressman Buchanan would react so defensively to a factual, by the book presentation of the current investigations being conducted by the FBI, IRS, Justice Department, a federal grand jury, and the House Ethics Committee."
Some previous investigations of Buchanan by the Federal Elections Commission and the Ethics Committee have been closed with no action taken against Buchanan. Others remain pending.
During his 2008 re-election campaign for a Florida House seat, Fitzgerald accused his Republican opponent Laura Benson of "negative" and "dishonest" attacks -- a history that Buchanan's spokeswoman now says make Fitzgerald a hypocrite. Fitzgerald won the race.
They also are reminiscent of similar, and eventually unsuccessful attacks against Buchanan, by Democratic nominee Christine Jennings in the 2008 race, Buchanan's campaign said.
"Ten months after announcing his candidacy, Fitzgerald has failed to address the issues people care most about -- creating jobs, growing the economy and tackling the enormous debt facing our nation," Tibbets said.
"Instead of explaining his support for Nancy Pelosi's failed agenda in support of tax hikes on small businesses, Medicare cuts and wasteful stimulus bills, Fitzgerald decided to launch a false and sleazy website. Is this what he's teaching our kids?"