(Updates with Buchanan spokesman comment and background beginning in fourth paragraph.)
Dec. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. House Ethics Committee today confirmed it is looking into allegations involving Republican Representative Vern Buchanan of Florida, whose former auto dealership is accused of illegally reimbursing donors to his campaigns.
Committee Chairman Jo Bonner, an Alabama Republican, and ranking Democrat Linda Sanchez of California said in a statement that information about Buchanan was forwarded to the panel last month by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which conducted a preliminary investigation. The ethics committee said it will decide how to proceed by Feb. 6.
The Federal Election Commission said in June that car company funds were used to reimburse dealership employees and relatives and business partners of Sam Karzan, who bought out Buchanan’s share of the dealership in 2008. The FEC has asked the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida to fine the company $67,900. The case is continuing.
“The release issued by the House Ethics Committee today is a routine notification,” said Max Goodman, a spokesman for Buchanan. “We are constructively engaged with the House Ethics Committee and are confident that the committee will dismiss this matter.”
Buchanan, 60, is vice chairman for finance at the National Republican Congressional Committee, which works to elect Republicans to U.S. House seats. The NRCC chairman, Texas Representative Pete Sessions, said earlier this month that he had “confidence” in Buchanan during an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt.”
“He is not the issue,” Sessions said. “The issue is the ability to resolve quickly what he brought to the committee and to the Department of Justice. He’s the one that provided the information, by the way, publicly about this. He’s being forthright, and I’m very proud of Vern.”
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