|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 16th district
January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Tom Rooney|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 13th district
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Katherine Harris|
|Succeeded by||Bill Young|
May 8, 1951 |
|Spouse(s)||Sandra "Sandy" Buchanan|
|Alma mater||Cleary University, University of Detroit|
|Occupation||automobile dealer, insurance executive|
|Service/branch||United States Air National Guard|
Vernon G. "Vern" Buchanan (born May 8, 1951) is the Congressman for Florida's 16th congressional district, serving in Congress since 2007. He is a member of the Republican Party. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is the only Florida Member of Congress to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, international trade, health care, and Social Security. Buchanan also serves as a Co-Chair of the Florida Congressional Delegation.
Prior to serving in Congress, he 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. In addition, he served as member of the board and the executive committee of the United States Chamber of Commerce.
Early life and education
Buchanan grew up in Michigan, the son of a factory foreman in a family of six children. 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.
After graduating with a BA, Buchanan went to work for Burroughs, a Detroit-based computer company. Next, in 1975, he became the Michigan distributor for an SMI, a firm that specialized in sales and marketing training materials.
American Speedy Printing
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.
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." 
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, plus his interest a clothing store and a spa, to concentrate on his House campaign, his spokesman said. His dealership group had $756 million in sales in 2005.
Off-shore reinsurance companies
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.
Buchanan has defended his record saying, "I have always paid my taxes and it is a substantial amount, but I don't think anyone should pay more taxes than they owe." His campaign spokeswoman added that his use of offshore reinsurance companies is normal. She noted, "This is a widely accepted practice offered by hundreds of businesses and enjoyed by thousands of consumers."
In 1999, Buchanan was approached to help to finance a very large project — the Ritz-Carlton condo-hotel development in Sarasota. But Buchanan was cut out of the Ritz deal, because the developers, Robert Buford and Kevin Daves, said he lied about his financial worth. Buchanan sued, and the parties settled in 2001.
The settlement was unusual: Buchanan bought a penthouse apartment 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 for slightly more than a year, until January 2003, and then sold it to another member of Buford's family for $6.35 million, using a deed dated a year earlier. The arrangement resulted in Buchanan paying about $260,000 less in federal taxes, because his profit of $1.35 million was taxed at 20% (capital gains) instead of 39.6% (regular income). Buford benefited because potential buyers checking property records would see that a penthouse had been sold to a wealthy car dealer for nearly $2 million more than any other condo in the building and then resold for a large profit a year later.
In the year he owned the penthouse, Buchanan used it for a number of charity benefits. That also benefited the developers: they got to show the Ritz experience to hundreds of the richest people in Southwest Florida and beyond.
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.
Early political career
Buchanan served as state finance chair for Senator Mel Martinez's successful 2004 campaign. He was also co-chair of the Republican National Finance Committee.
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, but Jennings polled ahead of Buchanan up to election day. Buchanan put more than $5 million of his own money into his campaign.
In October, Vice President Dick Cheney held a fund raising luncheon for Buchanan; later that month, President Bush held a fund raising reception for him. Between the two events, Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Martinez, and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney came to the district to campaign for Buchanan.
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. The touch-screen voting machines used provided no paper record. On November 20, 2006, the Florida Department of State certified the results of the recount, which showed Buchanan winning by 369 votes.
Although Buchanan took office January 4, 2007, the matter was not settled. Jennings challenged the results of the election in court, citing "pervasive malfunctioning of electronic voting machines." 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.
Review by Congress
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. 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).
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.
2008 Election Results
Buchanan, who won a razor thin victory in 2006, was easily re-elected in 2008 in a rematch with Christine Jennings, receiving 55% of the vote to 38% for Jennings. Congressman Buchanan, on election night, 2008 made the comment "What a difference two years makes." Buchanan received 66,372 more votes than his Democratic opponent in the 13th Congressional District of Florida - for a total of 55 percent. Congressman Buchanan got more votes in Sarasota County than John McCain received in the presidential race—a sign that the Republican Congressman got thousands of votes from people who voted for Obama. 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." 
In May 2009, Buchanan announced that he would be a candidate for re-election to Congress. 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.
Alleged ethics and campaign finance law violations
In 2008 and 2009, Buchanan was named one of the "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. CREW's five-page report on Buchanan cited evidence of pressuring and paying employees to make donations to his congressional campaign. On June 20, 2009, the St. Petersburg Times published an article alleging that Terry Keith Howell, a former business partner of Buchanan's, had been likewise pressured into donating the maximum allowable contribution of $8800 to Buchanan, despite being a registered Democrat, and in bankruptcy proceedings at the time.
In August 2011, CREW asked the FBI and the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Buchanan on charges of witness tampering, obstruction of justice and bribery, based mostly upon a deposition of one of his former business partners, Sam Kazran. “I need to raise $1 million by end of quarter, it’s not going to have the same impact if it came from me,” Buchanan told the group, according to Kazran’s court filing.
In October 2011, it had been reported that Buchanan was under investigation by the United States Department of Justice for campaign finance violations. On September 11, 2012, the Department of Justice closed its investigation into Congressman Buchanan and cleared him of wrongdoing.
In May 2012, the Office of Congressional Ethics issued a report stating that Buchanan attempted to get his former business partner to sign a legal affidavit that Buchanan knew to be false before he would agree to pay the partner a $2.9 million settlement in a business dispute. The affidavit falsely stated that Buchanan was unaware of illegal contributions made to his campaign in 2006. The report asserted that there was "substantial reason to believe" that Buchanan violated federal law by attempting to influence the testimony of a witness in a federal investigation.
On July 10, 2012, the United States House Committee on Ethics cleared Buchanan on 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.
On September 28, 2012, a prominent Tampa Bay real estate developer and his former business partner both pleaded guilty to federal charges of making illegal campaign donations totaling $84,300 to Buchanan's first two Congressional campaigns between 2006 and 2008. The pleas followed three years of federal investigation sparked by the 2009 Terry Howell allegations that determined developer Timothy Mobley and accountant Timothy Hohl illegally reimbursed employees for their donations to Buchanan's campaigns as well as the Republican Party of Florida. In addition to reimbursing employees for their contributions, Hohl also admitted accepting reimbursements from Mobley for donations he and his wife made during that time. Buchanan has stated he was "totally unaware" of any unlawful contributions and that his office would "disgorge" funds found to have been received illegally. Mobley and Buchanan have known each other personally since the early 1990s, after Buchanan first moved to the state.
U.S. House of Representatives
113th Congress (2013-2014)
112th Congress (2011-2012)
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. He was also asked by NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions to serve as Vice Chairman of the Committee, elevating him to an important leadership post.
In January of 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.
In June of 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.
In October of 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.
In December of 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."
In February of 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." 
In the 112th Congress, 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.
111th Congress (2009-2010)
- Committee on Small Business
- Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
- Committee on Veterans' Affairs
- Friends of Panama Caucus (Co-Chair)
- International Conservation Caucus
- Sportsmen's Caucus
Buchanan listed his top legislative priorities for this session as getting the economy moving again, stopping irresponsible spending and changing the way Washington works by ending partisanship and gridlock and working instead in a bipartisan effort to get things done for the American people. 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.
During the 111th Congress, Mr. Buchanan also introduced House Joint Resolution 43, which proposed a balanced budget amendment to the constitution of the United States. This bill, which was introduced on April 22, prohibits outlays for a fiscal year (except those for repayment of debt principal) from exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year (except those derived from borrowing) unless Congress, by a three-fifths roll call vote of each chamber, authorizes a specific excess of outlays over receipts.
Another bill introduced by Congressman Buchanan was H.Con.Res. 114, which expresses the sense of the Congress that a commemorative postage stamp should be issued to honor our nation's disabled veterans. This bill which was introduced on April 29, 2009, notes that more than 3,000,000 of the nation's veterans are currently classified as disabled, and that disabled veterans are returning home each day from honorably defending our country and honors their service to our country with the issuance of a commemorative postage stamp.
110th Congress (2007-2009)
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. OnTheIssues.org positions Buchanan as a "Populist Conservative", while GovTrack.us labels him a "Moderate Republican".
Buchanan introduced a constitutional amendment in January 2007 which would require Congress to pass a balanced budget if ratified. 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. 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.
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.
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.
Congressman Buchanan has received many awards for his dedicated service. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Buchanan its "Spirit of Enterprise" award recently 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. the U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents more than 3 million businesses.
Mr. Buchanan also received an award by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which honored the Congressman by presenting him with 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.
Buchanan was chairman of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the board of the Florida state chamber of commerce. He also served as member of the board and the executive committee of United States Chamber of Commerce.
- Lauren Mayk, "Buchanan: Big deals led to big riches", Herald-Tribune, October 31, 2006
- 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
- Michael Bragda, "Use of offshore companies helps Buchanan reduce his tax burden", Herald-Tribune, October 31, 2006
- Michael Braga, "Accountants, others question settlement between Buchanan, wealthy developer", Herald-Tribune, September 10, 2006
- Duane Marsteller, "One of richest reps in Congress: Vern Buchanan", Bradenton Herald, June 16, 2007
- LLC, Chrysler (2009-05-14). "Exhibit A" (PDF). MSNBC. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- Jeremy Wallace, "President Pitches In at Buchanan Fundraiser: Bush touts GOP principles at Vern Buchanan event in Sarasota", The Ledger, October 25, 2006
- "Another election mess in Florida", The Economist, December 9, 2006
- "Vice President's Remarks at a Luncheon for Vern Buchanan for Congress ", press release, October 6, 2006
- "Remarks by the President at Vern Buchanan for Congress Reception", press release, October 24, 2006
- "GOP launches rescue mission in Florida race: Once-secure congressional seat now in jeopardy, polls say", Associated Press, October 20, 2006
- "Jennings Dealt Setback In Voting Machine Challenge", CBS local news (cbs4.com), June 18, 2007
- Phil Davis, "House Panel to Consider Florida Contest", Associated Press, April 17, 2007
- Aaron Blake, "FL-13 task force will turn over investigation to GAO", The Hill, May 3, 2007
- Lesley Clark (2008-02-26). "US House dismisses challenge to Jennings' claim to seat".
- Larry Copeland,"Florida Election Results", "USA Today", November 6, 2008
- "This Time, A Victory Unchallenged for Buchanan". "Herald-Tribune", November 12, 2008
- Zac Anderson,"Buchanan Breezes to a Win", Herald-Tribune", November 5, 2008
- Duane Marsteller, "Buchanan Announces Re-Election Bid". Bradenton Herald", May 12, 2009
- "FL Dept of State, Division of Elections". Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- "Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) - CREW's Most Corrupt Members of Congress".
- "Buchanan workers tell of donation pressure". The Herald Tribune. 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
- "Bankrupt Democrat says he was pressured to contribute to GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan". The St. Petersburg Times. 2009-06-20. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
- "CREW calls on FBI to investigate Rep. Vern Buchanan". The American Independent. 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
- "Report: Vern Buchanan under investigation by Department of Justice". Politico. 2011-10-18. Retrieved 2011-10-20.
- Deeson, Mike (11 September 2012). "Department of Justice clears Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan". CBS 10 News WTSP (Tampa). Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- "Report Casts Harsh Light on Lawmaker’s Fund-Raising". The New York Times. May 8, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
- Yager, Jordy. "House Ethics panel clears Rep. Buchanan". The Hill. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
- Buchanan Campaign to refund $84,300. http://www.bradenton.com/2012/09/29/4218793/buchanan-campaign-to-refund-84300.html
- Martin, Susan Taylor (28 September 2012). "Friend of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan pleads guilty to campaign violations". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
- Wallace, Jeremy (10 December 2010). "Buchanan scores seat on Ways and Means committee". Sarasota Herald Tribune. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Derby, Kevin (14 January 2011). "NRCC Names Vern Buchanan Part of Leadership Team". Sunshine State News. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Herald Staff Report (12 January 2011). "Contract awarded for VA cemetery". Bradenton Herald. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Staff Report (1 June 2011). "US House Approves Buchanan's Bill Requiring Tribunals for Terrorists". Bradenton Times. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Derby, Kevin (13 October 2011). "Congress Passes Free Trade Agreements With Colombia, Panama and South Korea". Sunshine State News. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Eubanks, Pam (2 December 2011). "Provision in Buchanan jobs plan passes house". East County Observer. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Derby, Kevin (24 February 2012). "Vern Buchanan Backs Obama's Call to Lower Corporate Tax Rate". Sunshine State News. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Derby, Kevin (2 November 2011). "Vern Buchanan's Pill Mill Bill Gets Senate Sponsors". Sunshine State News. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- "About Congressman Vern Buchanan", "House.gov",
- 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,
- Congressional Quarterly. "2007 Presidential support ratings".
- Nicholas Azzara (2008-04-08). "Feds finally pay for '02 renourishing".
- Editorial, Bradenton Herald (2008-02-05). "A fix on flooding at Wares Creek".
- "H.J. RES 21, Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States", Sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan, 1-31-2007.
- "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."
- Bradenton Herald staff (2007-09-06). "Cash for vet cemetery".
- "H.R. 3922, Gang Reduction, Investment, and Prevention Act"
- Bradenton Herald (2007-09-14). "Violent crime grant awarded".
- Jeremy Wallace (2008-07-17). "Buchanan votes to override another Bush veto".
- "Bailout Roll Call". 2008-09-29. Retrieved September 29, 2008.
- MarketWatch. "MarketWatch's top stories of the week Sept. 29 - Oct. 3, 2008".
- GOP.Gov., "Official Biography Rep. Vern Buchanan - FL 13" "GOP.gov"
- Herald Staff Reports "U.S. Chamber Honors Vern Buchanan", "Bradenton Herald", March 27, 2009
- "Buchanan Receives VFW Legislative Achievement Award", "Zimbio.com", January 21, 2009
- Project VoteSmart bio, accessed November 1, 2006
- Congressman Vern Buchanan official U.S. House site
- Vern Buchanan for U.S. Congress official campaign site
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Biography at Ballotpedia
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Congressional profile at GovTrack
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Financial information (federal office) at OpenSecrets.org
- Staff salaries, trips and personal finance (federal office) at LegiStorm.com
- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Voting record at The Washington Post
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
- Collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Collected news and commentary at The Washington Post
- Profile at SourceWatch
- Buchanan Automotive Group official business site
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 13th congressional district
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 16th congressional district
|United States order of precedence|
|United States Representatives by seniority