Vern Buchanan: Wikis

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Vern Buchanan


Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 13th district
Incumbent
Assumed office 
January 3, 2007
Preceded by Katherine Harris

Born May 8, 1951 (1951-05-08) (age 58)
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 Baptist
Military service
Service/branch United States Air National Guard
Unit Michigan

Vernon G. "Vern" Buchanan (born May 8, 1951) is a Republican Congressman representing Florida's 13th congressional district.

Contents

Early life and education

Buchanan grew up in Michigan, the son of a factory foreman in a family of six children.[1] 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.

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.[2]

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Humanitarian Work

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.[2]

Business career

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.[1][3]

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.[3]

Florida businesses

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.[1] His dealership group had $756 million in sales in 2005.[3]

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.[4]

The Internal Revenue Service has stepped up efforts in recent years to investigate offshore reinsurance companies, and has urged Congress to change laws that help people benefit from these offshore tax havens.

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."[4]

Ritz-Carlton

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.[5]

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.[5]

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.[5]

Current holdings

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.[6]

His Venice Dodge was one of the dealerships informed by Chrysler that it would not get its franchise renewed[7].

Politics

Involvement prior to 2006 race for the U.S. House

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.

2006 race for U.S. House of Representatives

Primary and election

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 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,[8] but Jennings polled ahead of Buchanan up to election day.[9] Buchanan put more than $5 million of his own money into his campaign.[1]

In October, Vice President Dick Cheney held a fund raising luncheon for Buchanan;[10]; later that month, President Bush held a fund raising reception for him.[11] Between the two events, Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Martinez, and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney came to the district to campaign for Buchanan.[12]

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.[9] The touch-screen voting machines used provided no paper record.[9] On November 20, 2006, the Florida Department of State certified the results of the recount, which showed Buchanan winning by 369 votes.

Court challenge and review by Congress

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."[9] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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). Chairman Charles Gonzalez said he hoped to see results in as little as 45 days.[15] In mid-June, the task force voted unanimously to move forward with a review of Sarasota County operations, suggested by the GAO. The target completion date is July 27.[16]. Buchanan has not publicly commented on the investigation to this point.

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 now-Congressman Buchanan.[17]

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.[18] 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 dollars for cleaning up Wares Creek in Manatee County.[19][20]

Buchanan introduced a constitutional amendment in January 2007 which would require Congress to pass a balanced budget if ratified.[21] 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.[22][23] 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.[24][25]

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.[26]

On September 29, 2008, Buchanan voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008[27], but changed his vote to support the bill on the October 3, 2008 second House vote [28].

2008 Election Results

Buchanan, who won a razor thin victory in 2006, was easily re-elected in 2008, receiving 55% of the vote to his Democratic opponent's 38%.[29] Congressman Buchanan, on election night, 2008 made the comment "What a difference two years makes." He was talking about his comfortable margin of victory in the 2008 election. 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.[30] 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." [31]

111th Congress (2009-10)

Congressman Buchanan is currently serving his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 13th District of Florida.[32] Buchanan has 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.[32] Buchanan has sponsored several bills in the 111th Congress, including H.R. 1839, a Bill to Amend the Small Business Act to Improve SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), which was introduced on April 1, 2009. HR 1839 will 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 establishes a mentoring program of one-on-one advice to small businesses from qualified counselors.[33]

During the 111th Congress, Mr. Buchanan also introduced H.J. Res 43, which proposes 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.[33]

Another bill introduced by Congressman Buchanan is 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.[33]>

Committee assignments

Ethics

In 2008 and 2009 Buchanan was named one of the "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, an ethics watchdog group[34]. CREW cited allegations of Buchanan pressuring employees to make donations to his congressional campaign[35]. 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 the midst of bankruptcy proceedings at the time.[36].

2010 Elections

In May 2009, Congressman Buchanan announced that he would be a candidate for re-election to Congress, representing the 13th Congressional District of Florida. Buchanan said "representing Florida's 13th district in the U.S. House is an honor and a privilege and I look forward to the opportunity to continue serving the people."[37 ]

Awards

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.[38 ]

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.[39]

Buchanan was chairman of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and is now the chairman of the board of the Florida state chamber of commerce.[1] He is also a member of the board and the executive committee of United States Chamber of Commerce.[40]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Lauren Mayk, "Buchanan: Big deals led to big riches", Herald-Tribune, October 31, 2006
  2. ^ a b GOP.Gov., "Official Biography Rep. Vern Buchanan - FL 13" "GOP.gov"
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ a b Michael Bragda, "Use of offshore companies helps Buchanan reduce his tax burden", Herald-Tribune, October 31, 2006
  5. ^ a b c Michael Braga, "Accountants, others question settlement between Buchanan, wealthy developer", Herald-Tribune, September 10, 2006
  6. ^ Duane Marsteller, "One of richest reps in Congress: Vern Buchanan", Bradenton Herald, June 16, 2007
  7. ^ LLC, Chrysler (2009-05-14). "Exhibit A" (PDF). MSNBC. http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/business/Chrysler_dealers_list.pdf. Retrieved 2009-05-16.  
  8. ^ Jeremy Wallace, "President Pitches In at Buchanan Fundraiser: Bush touts GOP principles at Vern Buchanan event in Sarasota", The Ledger, October 25, 2006
  9. ^ a b c d "Another election mess in Florida", The Economist, December 9, 2006
  10. ^ "Vice President's Remarks at a Luncheon for Vern Buchanan for Congress ", press release, October 6, 2006
  11. ^ "Remarks by the President at Vern Buchanan for Congress Reception", press release, October 24, 2006
  12. ^ "GOP launches rescue mission in Florida race: Once-secure congressional seat now in jeopardy, polls say", Associated Press, October 20, 2006
  13. ^ "Jennings Dealt Setback In Voting Machine Challenge", CBS local news (cbs4.com), June 18, 2007
  14. ^ Phil Davis, "House Panel to Consider Florida Contest", Associated Press, April 17, 2007
  15. ^ Aaron Blake, "FL-13 task force will turn over investigation to GAO", The Hill, May 3, 2007
  16. ^ Aaron Blake, "Review of contested election advances", The Hill, June 15, 2007
  17. ^ Lesley Clark (2008-02-26). "US House dismisses challenge to Jennings' claim to seat". http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2008/02/its-over-with-b.html.  
  18. ^ Congressional Quarterly. Presidential support ratings "2007 Presidential support ratings". http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=57&title=2007 Presidential support ratings.  
  19. ^ Nicholas Azzara (2008-04-08). "Feds finally pay for '02 renourishing".  
  20. ^ Editorial, Bradenton Herald (2008-02-05). "A fix on flooding at Wares Creek".  
  21. ^ "H.J. RES 21, Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States", Sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan, 1-31-2007.
  22. ^ "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."
  23. ^ Bradenton Herald staff (2007-09-06). "Cash for vet cemetery".  
  24. ^ "H.R. 3922, Gang Reduction, Investment, and Prevention Act"
  25. ^ Bradenton Herald (2007-09-14). "Violent crime grant awarded".  
  26. ^ Jeremy Wallace (2008-07-17). "Buchanan votes to override another Bush veto". http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20080717/BLOG01/380139045/2364/BLOG01&title=Buchanan_votes_to_override_another_Bush_veto.  
  27. ^ "Bailout Roll Call". 2008-09-29. http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/29/bailout.rollcall.0929.pdf. Retrieved September 29, 2008.  
  28. ^ "MarketWatch's top stories of the week Sept. 29 - Oct. 3, 2008". http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/marketwatchs-top-stories-week-sept/story.aspx?guid={38B05691-4BB1-4D09-B8B2-765FDCF42CFD}&dist=msr_2.  
  29. ^ Larry Copeland,"Florida Election Results", "USA Today", November 6, 2008
  30. ^ "This Time, A Victory Unchallenged for Buchanan". "Herald-Tribune", November 12, 2008
  31. ^ Zac Anderson,"Buchanan Breezes to a Win", Herald-Tribune", November 5, 2008
  32. ^ a b "About Congressman Vern Buchanan", "House.gov",
  33. ^ a b c A project of the Sunlight Foundation and PPF, "H.R.1839 To Amend the Small Business Act to improve SCORE, and for other purposes, H.J. Res 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,
  34. ^ "Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) - CREW's Most Corrupt Members of Congress". http://www.crewsmostcorrupt.org/node/434.  
  35. ^ "Buchanan workers tell of donation pressure". The Herald Tribune. 2008-07-24. http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20080724/ARTICLE/807240383?Title=Buchanan-workers-tell-of-donation-pressure. Retrieved 2009-05-15.  
  36. ^ "Bankrupt Democrat says he was pressured to contribute to GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan". The St. Petersburg Times. 2009-06-20. http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/article1011930.ece. Retrieved 2009-06-21.  
  37. ^ Duane Marsteller, "Buchanan Announces Re-Election Bid". Bradenton Herald", May 12, 2009
  38. ^ Herald Staff Reports "U.S. Chamber Honors Vern Buchanan", "Bradenton Herald", March 27, 2009
  39. ^ "Buchanan Receives VFW Legislative Achievement Award", "Zimbio.com", January 21, 2009
  40. ^ Project VoteSmart bio, accessed November 1, 2006

External links

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

2007–Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent

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