Vern Buchanan

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Vern Buchanan
Vern Buchanan Official.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 16th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Tom Rooney
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 13th district
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Katherine Harris
Succeeded by Bill Young
Personal details
Born (1951-05-08) May 8, 1951 (age 63)
Detroit, Michigan
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sandra "Sandy" Buchanan
Residence Sarasota, Florida
Alma mater Cleary University, University of Detroit
Occupation automobile dealer, insurance executive
Religion Southern Baptist[1]
Military service
Service/branch United States Air National Guard
Unit Michigan

Vernon G. "Vern" Buchanan (born May 8, 1951) is a member of the United States House of Representatives. He has represented Florida's 16th congressional district since 2007. He is a member of the Republican Party. Rep. Buchanan is the only member from Florida on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, international trade, health care, and Social Security. Prior to serving in Congress, Buchanan was in business for over 30 years and was the chairman of both the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and the Florida State Chamber of Commerce. He served as member of the board and the executive committee of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Early life and education[edit]

Buchanan grew up in Michigan, the son of a factory foreman in a family of six children.[2] His maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Finland.[3] When he graduated from high school in 1969, he joined the Michigan Air National Guard, serving there for six years. Buchanan got a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Cleary University, in Michigan, and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Detroit.

Business career[edit]

In June 2007, Buchanan, in his financial disclosure filing, reported having over $100 million in assets, making him among the five wealthiest members of Congress. Most of his wealth is from his automotive empire, which includes several dealerships in Florida. He also reported ownership interests in about fifty other businesses, including offshore reinsurance companies, and a charter-jet business. He reported receiving at least $19.5 million in income from these businesses in 2006.[4]

American Speedy Printing[edit]

In May 1976, Buchanan convinced the owner of a Michigan printing company that he could help the business grow. The two founded American Speedy Printing, which grew through franchising to more than 730 stores in 44 states. In 1989, a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch made Buchanan a $15.4 million loan, guaranteed by his ownership in the company. In 1992, the company filed for bankruptcy, three days after Buchanan resigned; at the time, he owned all the company's stock.[2][5]

Buchanan and American Speedy were defendants in a string of lawsuits during the late 1980s and early 1990s by franchisees and master franchisees, who said they were not making the money that Buchanan had said they could expect. After the bankruptcy, he was accused by a creditors committee of taking excessive compensation and actions that resulted in overstated earnings for American Speedy. In a 1995 deposition, he said that he had no personal obligation to repay the loan from Merrill Lynch; a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over taxes on the money Buchanan received from Merrill Lynch stretched through the 1990s and ended with him paying $1.5 million for "excessive compensation". [5]

Car dealerships[edit]

In 1992, Buchanan bought a Honda and Acura dealership in Ocala, Florida. In late 1999, he bought two more dealerships. He continued to acquire dealerships after that, but in 2006 he sold five dealerships and other businesses in order to concentrate on politics.[2] His dealerships had $756 million in sales in 2005.[5] His Venice Dodge was one of the dealerships informed by Chrysler that it would not get its franchise renewed.[6]

Reinsurance companies[edit]

Buchanan owns two reinsurance companies — Jamat Reinsurance Co. and Buchanan Reinsurance Co., in Turks and Caicos, and part of the Bermuda reinsurance company Greater Atlantic Insurance Co. The three companies offer extended warranty policies to car buyers. Buchanan invests some of the proceeds from his reinsurance companies in real estate developments in the Bahamas.[7]

Ritz-Carlton[edit]

In 1999, Buchanan was approached to help to finance the Ritz-Carlton condo-hotel development in Sarasota. Buchanan was cut out of the project. The developers, Robert Buford and Kevin Daves, said he lied about his financial means. Buchanan sued and the parties settled in 2001.[8] Per a structured settlement, Buchanan bought a condo from a nephew of Buford's for $5 million; the nephew had purchased it the day before for $2.368 million. Buchanan owned the unit a little more than a year and then sold it to another member of Buford's family for $6.35 million. The arrangement resulted in Buchanan paying taxes on his gain at the reduced long-term capital gains rate. Buford benefited from the apartment's increased appraised value and the use of Buchanan's $5 million.[8] In the year he owned the penthouse, Buchanan used it for charity fundraisers.[8]

Political campaigns[edit]

2006[edit]

Primary election[edit]

Buchanan ran in the 13th congressional district in Florida to replace incumbent Republican Katherine Harris, who was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate. Buchanan won the Republican primary with 32% of the vote, against four opponents. His closest challengers were Nancy C. Detert, with 25% of the vote, and Tramm Hudson, with 24%.

In the November general election, Buchanan faced Democrat Christine Jennings, a banking executive. There were 216,000 registered Republicans and about 155,000 registered Democrats in the district,[9] but Jennings polled ahead of Buchanan up to election day.[10] Buchanan put more than $5 million of his own money into his campaign.[2]

In October, Vice President Dick Cheney held a fund raising luncheon for Buchanan;[11] later that month, President Bush held a fund raising reception for him.[12] Between the two events, Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Martinez, and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney came to the district to campaign for Buchanan.[13]

General election[edit]

Initial results of the November election showed Buchanan leading by less than 350 votes. Due to the closeness of the race, and a high undervote of 18,000 in Sarasota County, a recount was ordered. Voters in Sarasota County had given more votes to a hospital board than they had to their Congressional representative—with 13% of voters not voting, compared to an average of 2% in neighboring counties.[10] The touch-screen voting machines used provided no paper record.[10] On November 20, 2006, the Florida Department of State certified the results of the recount, which showed Buchanan winning by 369 votes.

Jennings challenged the results of the election in court, citing "pervasive malfunctioning of electronic voting machines."[10] In December 2006, a Florida circuit judge ruled that her claim that voting machines in Sarasota County lost up to 18,000 votes was "conjecture" and didn't warrant overriding the trade secrets of the voting machine company. In June 2007, a Florida state appellate court ruled that Jennings did not meet the "extraordinary burden" of proving the lower court judge was wrong.[14]

The U.S. House of Representatives had the right to make the final determination as to whether Buchanan will hold the seat for the remainder of the term or be replaced by Jennings. In April, a three-person House task force was created to evaluate the election.[15] In early May, the task force voted along party lines to refer an investigation into Florida’s 13th district House race to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).[16] On 25 February 2008, the committee and the House accepted the GAO's findings that no machine error was demonstrated as sufficient to have altered the outcome of the election. The House passed HR 989 affirming the findings of the committee, accepting the results of the 2006 race and formally dismissing Jennings' challenge of the election's results. Jennings formally dropped her challenge shortly thereafter to focus on her 2008 rematch against Buchanan.[17]

2008[edit]

Buchanan, who won narrowly in 2006, but was easily re-elected in a 2008 rematch with Christine Jennings. He received 55% of the vote to 38% for Jennings.[18] On election night in 2008 Buchanan said, "What a difference two years makes." Buchanan said that he was humbled by the huge margin of victory and that he would focus his next term on "jobs, the economy, taxes, energy prices, national security and we've got to change the broken system in Washington." [19]

2010[edit]

In May 2009, Buchanan announced that he would be a candidate for re-election to Congress.[20] He defeated Don Baldauf in the Republican primary, and faced Democratic nominee The Reverend James T. Golden in the General. Buchanan won the 2010 General Election for Florida's 13th Congressional District with 68.9% of the vote.[21]

2012[edit]

Ethics ruling[edit]

In 2008, Buchanan was accused of campaign fraud by forcing employees of his dealerships to write checks to his campaign, while reimbursing them from his own pocket. The investigation that was called into action was fueled by members on both sides of the aisle and looked into his participation in several counts of fraud. Despite the investigations being called off, numerous witnesses came forward testifying he had made campaign violations.[22]

In 2012 there were no less than four federal and congressional investigations into his business and fundraising activities. Allegations were made that Buchanan used his car dealerships for campaign funding through cash swaps.[23]

On July 10, 2012, the United States House Committee on Ethics cleared Buchanan of charges that he violated House rules by intentionally misleading Congress about his finances. The committee stated the errors found in his financial disclosure forms did not warrant punitive action.[24]

CREW’S Most Corrupt has named Buchanan as one of the most corrupt members of Congress for 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012, accusing him of fundraising fraud and tax evasion. Eleven individuals and entities affiliated with Buchanan have been fined for illegal contributions to his campaign.[25]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

110th Congress (2007-2009)[edit]

Buchanan was sworn in as Representative for Florida's 13th Congressional District on 3 January 2007. Congressional Quarterly noted that Buchanan voted in support of President Bush's legislative agenda 66 percent of the time in 2007, the third lowest rate of the 16 members of Florida's Republican congressional delegation.[26] OnTheIssues.org positions Buchanan as a "Populist Conservative", while GovTrack.us labels him a "Moderate Republican".

Buchanan secured federal funding of $2 million for reimbursement for cleanup efforts in Anna Maria Island and $4 million for cleaning up Wares Creek in Manatee County.[27][28]

Buchanan introduced a constitutional amendment in January 2007 which would require Congress to pass a balanced budget if ratified.[29] He introduced legislation to create a US Postage stamp honoring and assisting disabled veterans, as well as secured funding for the construction of a national veterans' cemetery in Sarasota County.[30][31] Additionally, Buchanan introduced a bill to increase federal assistance for fighting gang crime and secured grant funding for local anti-gang efforts in Manatee County.[32][33]

As of July 2008, Buchanan had voted to override five of President Bush's vetoes of legislation passed by the 110th Congress. These override votes included a vote in support of expanding the coverage range of the SCHIP program, the 2008 farm bill, and the Water Resources Development Act.[34]

On September 29, 2008, Buchanan voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008,[35] but changed his vote to support the bill on the October 3, 2008 second House vote .[36]

111th Congress (2009-2010)[edit]

Buchanan sponsored several bills in the 111th Congress, including House Resolution 1839, a Bill to Amend the Small Business Act to Improve SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), which was introduced on April 1, 2009. House Resolution 1839 would require the administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure that SCORE increases the proportion of small business mentors from socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds, establish benchmarks for evaluating its activities and volunteers, and establish a mentoring program of one-on-one advice to small businesses from qualified counselors.[37]

112th Congress (2011-2012)[edit]

In the 112th Congress, Buchanan was named to a seat on the Ways and Means Committee, the only Member from Florida serving on that Committee.[38] He was also asked by NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions to serve as Vice Chairman of the Committee, elevating him to an important leadership post.[39]

In January 2011, Buchanan helped secure the construction of Sarasota National Cemetery through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The cemetery plans include 11,500 grave sites, 16,000 cremain sites and other buildings and structures necessary for funerals for veterans and their families.[40]

In June 2011, the House passed Buchanan's "Military Tribunals for Terrorists Act" as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act. The bill requires foreign terrorists to be prosecuted by military tribunal, rather than in civilian courts.[41]

In October 2011, Buchanan "played a large role" in the passage of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. The treaty was backed by the White House, and a bipartisan majority in Congress.[42]

In December 2011 the US House passed H.R. 527, part of Buchanan's "10-point Jobs Plan." The measure closed "loopholes in current law to ensure regulatory agencies will fully account for the effect of new regulations on small businesses before regulations are adopted."[43]

In February 2012, Buchanan supported President Obama's proposal to lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 28%. In a statement, Buchanan said, "I appreciate the president's willingness to engage on such an important issue." [44]

Buchanan introduced a bill to crack down on so-called prescription drug "Pill Mills." "The proposed legislation would direct money seized from pill mill operators to be used for drug treatment, increase fines and sentences for those convicted of running pill mills and change standards, making hydrocodone drugs -- for example, Vicodin -- harder to obtain." The bill has bi-partisan support in the House, and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (WV) introduced companion legislation in the US Senate.[45]

113th Congress (2013-2015)[edit]

Committee on Ways and Means

In the 113th Congress, Buchanan introduced a resolution denouncing the international practice of shark finning. Buchanan’s resolution calls for a ban on importing shark fins from fisheries that engage in shark finning.[46]

Personal life[edit]

Congressman Buchanan lives in Longboat Key, Florida with his wife of 31 years, Sandy, whom he met while in college. The Buchanans have two grown sons, James and Matt.[47]

Congressman Buchanan has given both time and money to various community causes, including the Boys and Girls Club, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Walk to Cure Juvenile Diabetes, the American Heart Walk, the Mote Marine Laboratory and the Ringling Museum.[47]

Awards[edit]

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Buchanan its "Spirit of Enterprise" award in 2009 for his support of pro-business legislation. Buchanan is a former board member of the chamber, which endorsed him in the 2006 and 2008 races for the 13th Congressional District seat.[48]

Also in 2009, the Veterans of Foreign Wars gave Buchanan their Legislative Achievement Award for his work on legislation improving the quality of life of active and reserve service members, military retirees, veterans and their families.[49]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ten Southern Baptists sworn in as new reps.". Baptist News. 
  2. ^ a b c d Lauren Mayk, "Buchanan: Big deals led to big riches", Herald-Tribune, October 31, 2006
  3. ^ http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~battle/reps/buchanan.htm
  4. ^ Duane Marsteller, "One of richest reps in Congress: Vern Buchanan", Bradenton Herald, June 16, 2007
  5. ^ a b c Lauren Mayk, "A success story that's not so simple: Vern Buchanan's messy departure from American Speedy is a seldom-told tale", Herald Tribune, October 6, 2006
  6. ^ LLC, Chrysler (2009-05-14). "Exhibit A" (PDF). MSNBC. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  7. ^ Michael Bragda, "Use of offshore companies helps Buchanan reduce his tax burden", Herald-Tribune, October 31, 2006
  8. ^ a b c Michael Braga, "Accountants, others question settlement between Buchanan, wealthy developer", Herald-Tribune, September 10, 2006
  9. ^ Jeremy Wallace, "President Pitches In at Buchanan Fundraiser: Bush touts GOP principles at Vern Buchanan event in Sarasota", The Ledger, October 25, 2006
  10. ^ a b c d "Another election mess in Florida", The Economist, December 9, 2006
  11. ^ "Vice President's Remarks at a Luncheon for Vern Buchanan for Congress ", press release, October 6, 2006
  12. ^ "Remarks by the President at Vern Buchanan for Congress Reception", press release, October 24, 2006
  13. ^ "GOP launches rescue mission in Florida race: Once-secure congressional seat now in jeopardy, polls say", Associated Press, October 20, 2006
  14. ^ "Jennings Dealt Setback In Voting Machine Challenge", CBS local news (cbs4.com), June 18, 2007
  15. ^ Phil Davis, "House Panel to Consider Florida Contest", Associated Press, April 17, 2007
  16. ^ Aaron Blake, "FL-13 task force will turn over investigation to GAO", The Hill, May 3, 2007
  17. ^ Lesley Clark (2008-02-26). "US House dismisses challenge to Jennings' claim to seat". 
  18. ^ Larry Copeland,"Florida Election Results", "USA Today", November 6, 2008
  19. ^ Zac Anderson,"Buchanan Breezes to a Win", Herald-Tribune", November 5, 2008
  20. ^ Duane Marsteller, "Buchanan Announces Re-Election Bid". Bradenton Herald", May 12, 2009
  21. ^ "FL Dept of State, Division of Elections". Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  22. ^ Friedman, John (Aug 19, 2008). "Exclusive: Florida GOP Congressman Vern Buchanan Facing Seven Legal Complaints, Accusations Of Wrongdoing From Employees (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. 
  23. ^ Mataconis, Doug. "Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan Facing Ethics, IRS, FBI Investigations". Outside the Beltway. 
  24. ^ Yager, Jordy. "House Ethics panel clears Rep. Buchanan". The Hill. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  25. ^ "Vern Buchanan". CREW’S Most Corrupt. 
  26. ^ Congressional Quarterly. "2007 Presidential support ratings". 
  27. ^ Nicholas Azzara (2008-04-08). "Feds finally pay for '02 renourishing". 
  28. ^ Editorial, Bradenton Herald (2008-02-05). "A fix on flooding at Wares Creek". 
  29. ^ "H.J. RES 21, Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States", Sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan, 1-31-2007.
  30. ^ "H.J. CON. RES. 176, Expressing the sense of the Congress that a commemorative postage stamp should be issued to honor our Nation's disabled veterans."
  31. ^ Bradenton Herald staff (2007-09-06). "Cash for vet cemetery". 
  32. ^ "H.R. 3922, Gang Reduction, Investment, and Prevention Act"
  33. ^ Bradenton Herald (2007-09-14). "Violent crime grant awarded". 
  34. ^ Jeremy Wallace (2008-07-17). "Buchanan votes to override another Bush veto". 
  35. ^ "Bailout Roll Call". 2008-09-29. Retrieved September 29, 2008. 
  36. ^ MarketWatch. "MarketWatch's top stories of the week Sept. 29 - Oct. 3, 2008". 
  37. ^ A project of the Sunlight Foundation and PPF, "H.R.1839 To Amend the Small Business Act to improve SCORE, and for other purposes, House Joint Resolution 43 Proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, H.Con.Res. 114 Expressing the Sense of the Congress that A Commemorative Postage Stamp Should Be Issued to Honor Our Nation's Disabled Veterans", April 1, April 22, April 29, 2009,
  38. ^ Wallace, Jeremy (10 December 2010). "Buchanan scores seat on Ways and Means committee". Sarasota Herald Tribune. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  39. ^ Derby, Kevin (14 January 2011). "NRCC Names Vern Buchanan Part of Leadership Team". Sunshine State News. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  40. ^ Herald Staff Report (12 January 2011). "Contract awarded for VA cemetery". Bradenton Herald. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  41. ^ Staff Report (1 June 2011). "US House Approves Buchanan's Bill Requiring Tribunals for Terrorists". Bradenton Times. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  42. ^ Derby, Kevin (13 October 2011). "Congress Passes Free Trade Agreements With Colombia, Panama and South Korea". Sunshine State News. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  43. ^ Eubanks, Pam (2 December 2011). "Provision in Buchanan jobs plan passes house". East County Observer. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  44. ^ Derby, Kevin (24 February 2012). "Vern Buchanan Backs Obama's Call to Lower Corporate Tax Rate". Sunshine State News. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  45. ^ Derby, Kevin (2 November 2011). "Vern Buchanan's Pill Mill Bill Gets Senate Sponsors". Sunshine State News. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  46. ^ East, Jim (2013-07-09). "Buchanan goes after shark fin trade market". Ripon Advance. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  47. ^ a b GOP.Gov., "Official Biography Rep. Vern Buchanan - FL 13" "GOP.gov"
  48. ^ Herald Staff Reports "U.S. Chamber Honors Vern Buchanan", "Bradenton Herald", March 27, 2009
  49. ^ "Buchanan Receives VFW Legislative Achievement Award", "Zimbio.com", January 21, 2009

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Katharine Harris
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 13th congressional district

2007–2013
Succeeded by
Bill Young
Preceded by
Tom Rooney
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 16th congressional district

2013–Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Bruce Braley
D-Iowa
United States Representatives by seniority
201st
Succeeded by
Kathy Castor
D-Florida