Friday, May 25, 2018
Opinion

The world according to Vern Buchanan: Ethics, schmethics

From the day he arrived in Washington raising one hand to be sworn in as a member of Congress while extending his other outstretched palm, Rep. Vern Buchanan of Sarasota has consistently been considered one of the most ethically challenged figures on Capitol Hill.

Whoa! The newbie congressman barely had time to unpack his Rolodex of defense lawyers and he was already on his way to achieving mythic status for being more ethically compromised than Silvio Berlusconi at a Miss Teen Italy pageant.

This guy isn't a congressman. He's a cartel.

How proud the National Republican Congressional Committee must be to have Buchanan, R-Subpoena-in-Waiting, as its leading fundraiser, which has to be a shot in the arm for the brown bag industry.

Isn't this a bit like the National Bankers Association hiring Willie Sutton as its spokesman?

The Sarasota politician is in the news again for his slippery finger approach to raising money, accused of eliciting perjured testimony and falsifying documents. Just another typical day in the life of Vern Buchanan, R-So Many Checks, So Little Time.

Congressional ethics investigators, who will always be gainfully employed as long as Buchanan continues to serve the people, issued a report this week noting that the congressman may have violated federal law and congressional rules when he attempted to influence the testimony of a former business partner about a litany of campaign finance irregularities.

Vern? Really?

The investigators found evidence that Buchanan tried to get a former business associate whom he owed a $2.9 million settlement to sign a cooked-up affidavit falsely claiming that the congressman knew nothing about $100,000 in illegal contributions to his 2006 congressional campaign.

For you legally challenged types, like Buchanan, this is a really big naughty no-no.

Buchanan's mouthpieces were shocked, shocked that the ethics committee concluded there was "substantial reason to believe" the congressman knew the affidavit was full of phooey when he pressured the ex-business partner to sign a manifesto of fibs.

Buchanan was more than welcome to testify before the committee, but he chose not to cooperate. That's understandable since he would have been required to tell the truth. Uh-oh. And now he's whining about the results.

The lawyers labeled the report "fundamentally flawed" and "bizarre," just for the flair of it all.

The problem for Buchanan, who makes Crime and Punishment look like a pamphlet, is that the aggrieved business partner, Sam Kazran, was able to provide the sleuths emails and voice mails between the two men that indicate the congressman knew about the hinky campaign contributions and the fraudulent affidavit.

Buchanan left a trail of recordings and documents linking him to the shenanigans? Texas Gov. Rick Perry isn't this dense.

Now the ethics committee, which seems to be enjoying itself immensely investigating Buchanan, R-Tom Delay-lite, has decided to extend the scrutiny.

Well, why not? Everyone else is!

Vern Buchanan has been in Washington for less than six years, yet he has managed to become the target of investigations by the FBI, the IRS, the Federal Elections Commission and the House Committee on Ethics.

Now that's naked ambition for you.

At the rate Buchanan, R-Can You Speak a Little Louder Into the Saltshaker Please?, is piling up probes, would it surprise anyone to learn he's also the prime suspect into inquiries by the Visiting Nurse Association, the Book-of-the-Month Club, the Campfire Girls and Toastmasters International?

Propaganda abounds in campaign advertising. Winning elections no matter the cost to the truth is the most important thing. So it's entirely appropriate the GOP would entrust its money machine to someone so utterly indifferent to scruples.

And let's not forget, aside from those party poopers at the FBI, the IRS, the FEC and the House Ethics Committee, when it comes to collecting checks, Buchanan is very good at it — however he does it.

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