DOJ Investigating NRCC Finance Chairman Vern Buchanan

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), finance chairman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), is under investigation by the Justice Department over allegations he was involved in a scheme to reimburse employees of his former car dealership for donations they made to his campaign, a Florida newspaper reports.

A former business partner of Buchanan’s has accused the Florida Republican of “running” donations through the dealership. The Federal Election Commission has gone after that business partner, Sam Kazran, but hasn’t touched Buchanan.Buchanan’s lawyer, Patton Boggs partner William J. McGinley (who previously served as general counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and deputy counsel to the Republican National Committee), had no comment when contacted by TPM. He told the Bradenton Herald that he believes federal investigators will clear Buchanan and even said he anticipates they’ll find that “Congressman Buchanan is a victim.”

Campaign spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts told Politico that it had “always been our expectation that the Justice Department would review the [FEC’s] findings.”

“The FEC carefully reviewed these politically motivated charges and concluded, based upon the factual record, that Vern did nothing wrong,” Tibbetts said in the statement. “We are confident that the Justice Department will reach the same conclusion and look forward to cooperating fully.”

NRCC’s rivals over at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) are loving the whole Buchanan mess.

“Will House Republican leaders including Leader Cantor and Chairman Sessions stand idly by while Congressman Vern Buchanan – the chief fundraiser to preserve their majority – is under investigation by the Department of Justice for campaign finance schemes?” DCCC’s Jesse Ferguson asked in a statement. “This is just the latest test of Republican’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy – will they live by their own rules?”