“There is substantial reason to believe that Representative Buchanan knew on October 2, 2008, at the time that he made the settlement agreement contingent on the affidavit that: (1) Former Business Partner had information concerning the reimbursements prior to September 2008; and (2) paragraph 5 of the affidavit was false,” the OCE report said.
Though the OCE does not have the jurisdiction to review any alleged reimbursements that occurred before March 2008, when the office was established, the scheme itself was the focus of a multiyear FEC investigation that ended when it closed the file and said “no further action” would be taken. Kazran settled a separate FEC case related to the Buchanan campaign earlier this year by agreeing to repay a nominal amount.
The OCE’s inquiry centers on the submission of the affidavit in October 2008.
A Buchanan representative late Wednesday dismissed the report as “a disgrace” that relied on the testimony of a “thoroughly discredited witness.”
“There is absolutely nothing new in this report — every allegation was painstakingly reviewed and unequivocally rejected by the FEC,” Buchanan spokesman Max Goodman said in a statement.
Buchanan’s legal team had previously told the OCE that its findings were “fundamentally flawed” in a March letter that was also released on Wednesday.
“It misstates the evidence on which it is based, conceals exculpatory evidence, conceals the fact that the FEC found substantial grounds to doubt Kazran’s credibility and relies upon interpretation of documents that are at odds with their plain meaning, the conduct of all the parties, and the sworn statements of witnesses on which the report purports to rely,” the Patton Boggs attorneys wrote.
The OCE, in a rare public statement, countered that its review had been “thorough and professional” and that it took “great care to abide by the letter and spirit” of the rules.
“There was not a shred of exculpatory evidence that was not turned over to Rep. Buchanan’s attorneys. ... Our review was factual, fair and in keeping with the mission the House tasked us with — to assist the House in upholding the highest of ethical standards for Members and staff,” OCE spokeswoman Kelly Brewington said.
This is the committee’s second ongoing and open-ended review of allegations surrounding Buchanan, who was elected in 2006 and represents a district in the southwest part of Florida that includes Sarasota and most of Bradenton.
By the time the OCE voted unanimously in late January that there was “substantial reason to believe” that Buchanan had encouraged the submission of the false affidavit and referred the matter to the Ethics Committee, it was already considering whether he had failed to disclose positions on his financial disclosure forms.
In that case, the OCE’s 336-page report found that Buchanan had omitted 17 positions on forms filed for the calendar years 2007 to 2010.