Another controversial Vern Buchanan deal: This one involving Habitat for Humanity
By 2009, Florida's real estate market had plunged, dragging with it a Bradenton project being developed by the brother of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.
Only a few homes had been built in the community, known as Cortez Landings. Work had been at a standstill for almost two years.
Yet in the depths of the financial crash, Cortez Landings LLC found a buyer willing to pay $1.4 million for some weedy vacant lots. Manatee County Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit group that builds homes for the poor, is now stuck with undeveloped land worth less than $500,000, about a third of what it paid.
"It was not a good deal, it absolutely wasn't,'' said Patricia Staebler, a certified general appraiser who joined Habitat's board last year. "They overpaid in 2009.''
Ed Buchanan, brother of Sarasota's Republican congressman, lost money on the sale compared with what he originally paid. But he mitigated his losses by selling to Habitat at a time when traditional real estate deals had all but shut down.
Rep. Buchanan benefited from the deal, as well.
Habitat still owes $1 million to a company owned by Buchanan's wife and one of his top executives. And unbeknownst to Habitat until Thursday, Buchanan has been using the Habitat mortgage as collateral for a multimillion dollar loan he got from Bank of America.