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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Buchanan cleared in House ethics probe



vernbuchanan.jpgThe House ethics committee says Rep. Vern Buchanan is clear after amending his financial disclosure statement to correct "errors and omissions." (background here)

The Sarasota Republican, a top national GOP fundraiser, has faced a swirl of investigations regarding his finances. He still faces larger probe into campaign contributions but the action today is a victory. Buchanan had failed to business ownership interests in several companies and income received.

"In fact, between 30% and 50% of all Financial Disclosure Statements reviewed by the Committee each year contain errors or omissions," reads a letter announcing the decision. "Such errors and omissions are not uncommon and are typically corrected through amendments to Financial Disclosure Statements, and do not involve any further Committee action.

"Representative Buchanan has now corrected the errors and omissions in his Financial Disclosure Statements by his subsequent amendments. Therefore, no further action by the Committee is warranted and the Committee considers the matter closed."

 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington blasted the decision.

"It is ridiculous that just one day after the Ethics Committee announced it would be forming an investigative subcommittee to investigate Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), it took a pass on Rep. Buchanan," said CREW's executive director Melanie Solan. "It is unfathomable how the Ethics Committee could punt on Rep. Buchanan – a repeat offender – while continuing its investigation of Rep. Berkley’s potential offenses.  Rep. Buchanan has a well-documented history of lying to avoid accountability.  Nevertheless, the Ethics Committee just takes this proven liar at his word when he declares the errors were inadvertent.

"The Ethics Committee rationalizes its decision by noting 30-50% of the disclosure forms reviewed include errors.  Since when is ‘everybody does it’ a legitimate excuse for breaking the law?  Did Congress repeal the False Statements Act, which makes lying on the forms a criminal offense, when we weren’t looking?  Apparently, the rules governing financial disclosures are merely ‘suggestions.’  Once again, the Ethics Committee covers up for an unethical member of Congress and the public loses out.

"Rep. Buchanan may have avoided punishment this time, but hopefully he’ll be he held accountable by a jury of his peers in the near future."

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 3:11pm]


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