The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating complaints that U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan broke campaign finance laws — the same allegations for which the Federal Elections Commission has already cleared the congressman after a two-year investigation.
Buchanan’s attorneys said Tuesday they expected that the Justice Department would open its own probe of allegations that Buchanan directed a former business partner, Sam Kazran, to improperly reimburse his employees for contributions they made to Buchanan’s congressional campaigns from 2005 to 2007.
The attorneys accuse Kazran and Tallahassee lawyer Doug Lyons, who has filed about a dozen lawsuits against Buchanan, of trying to extort money from the congressman to buy their silence. Mark Ornstein, an Orlando attorney who represents Buchanan’s auto dealership businesses, said Lyons told him it would take $43 million to keep his clients’ complaints confidential.
Buchanan’s lawyers said they have asked the Justice Department to investigate the attempted blackmail.
The Justice Department would neither confirm nor deny an investigation on Tuesday.
Bill McGinley, a Washington lawyer representing Buchanan, told the Bradenton Herald that not only does he expect the Justice Department to clear Buchanan, he expects the investigation will find that “Congressman Buchanan is a victim.”
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