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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 07/10/2012

Vern Buchanan cleared of some ethics allegations


Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) celebrates his victory over his Democratic opponent on Nov. 8, 2006, in Sarasota, Fla. (Rob Mattson - AP)
The House Ethics Committee has cleared Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) of one set of allegations against him, ruling unanimously that the lawmaker made mistakes on his financial disclosure statements that are common among many lawmakers.

The decision is a victory for the three-term Florida lawmaker, who also serves as chief fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and delivers a setback to House Democrats, who had used the charges against Buchanan in ads suggesting that the GOP is unfit to lead the House.

In its ruling Tuesday, the ethics panel said Buchanan provided inaccurate information about his business interests on financial disclosure statements for 2007 through 2010 and also inaccurately reported some information about his income. The committee said in a statement that it “found no evidence that the errors were knowing or willful” and that such mistakes are common.

“In fact, between 30% and 50% of all Financial Disclosure Statements reviewed by the Committee each year contain errors or omissions,” the committee said. “Such errors and omissions are not uncommon and are typically corrected through amendments to Financial Disclosure Statements.”

Buchanan’s office said in a statement that he is “pleased, but not surprised” by the decision and noted that the decision was the “second major investigation to repudiate false allegations made against Congressman Buchanan.”

Despite Tuesday’s decision, the ethics panel continues to investigate allegations that Buchanan once offered to pay a former business partner $2.9 million if he agreed to sign a false affidavit claiming he knew nothing about plans to reimburse employees of Buchanan’s car dealership. The FBI, Internal Revenue Service and a federal grand jury are also conducting separate investigations into allegations against him.

In a separate matter, the ethics panel announced Monday that it is launching a formal probe into allegations that Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) used her position to benefit the financial interests of her husband, who operates kidney dialysis centers in Nevada.

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By  |  12:15 PM ET, 07/10/2012

 
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