The House Ethics Committee said on Tuesday it has unanimously voted to take no action against Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., for failing to report outside positions he held at six companies and organizations as well as income on his financial disclosure statements for the years 2007-2010.
The committee says it found no evidence that Buchanan’s omissions were “knowing or willful,” or that the errors were “substantially different” from “the hundreds of thousands” of mistakes found in as much as 50 percent of other lawmakers’ financial disclosure statements filed each year.
“Such errors and omissions are not uncommon and are typically corrected through amendments to financial disclosure statements and do not involve any further committee action,” states the announcement from Chairman Jo Bonner, R-Ala., and ranking member Linda Sanchez, D-Calif.
“Representative Buchanan has now corrected the errors and omissions in his financial disclosure statements by his subsequent amendments,” their announcement says. “Therefore, no further action by the committee is warranted, and the committee considers the matter closed.” The panel's vote to dismiss the case against Buchanan--who continues to head fundraising for the National Republican Congressional Committee--was 9-0.
However, Buchanan remains under review by the committee on a separate matter concerning allegations that he improperly reimbursed contributors to his campaigns $67,900 from his former chain of auto dealerships.
Buchanan said he was pleased with the committee’s action on Tuesday but not surprised, echoing the committee's statement that many representatives and senators routinely amend their reports due to inadvertent omissions.
Along with its announcement, the committee released a six-page report on the case, which gave details of the accusations forwarded to the committee on Nov. 8 by the Office of Congressional Ethics. The OCE is a quasi-independent ethics body charged with vetting allegations against lawmakers before passing a case on to the committee.
The report discloses that OCE found that Buchanan failed to disclose up to $14,315 in interest income imputable to these six companies over the four-year time period upon which it focused its investigation, but that those mistakes also had been corrected.
In the end, the committee's report seems to suggest that the panel should not have been required to take the case from OCE, or be forced now to publish details about it, but that it was required by House rules to do both. The report states that Buchanan, “by filing financial disclosure statements containing inadvertent errors and omissions, found himself in a posture not uncommon among filers of financial disclosure statement[s]... .”
But it added that “while many others in that position are able to exit it in a manner which is not the subject of a public investigation by the committee, House and committee rules forced the committee to publish OCE's report and findings in this matter and accordingly publicize Representative Buchanan's errors and omissions.”