ENG: Vernon G. "Vern" Buchanan (born May 8, 1951) is the Congressman for Florida's 16th congressional district, serving in Congress since 2007. He is a member of the Republican Party. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is the only Florida Member of Congress to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, international trade, health care, and Social Security. Buchanan also serves as a Co-Chair of the Florida Congressional Delegation.
Prior to serving in Congress, he was in business for over 30 years and was the chairman of both the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and the Florida State Chamber of Commerce. In addition, he served as member of the board and the executive committee of the United States Chamber of Commerce.
Early life and education
Buchanan grew up in Michigan, the son of a factory foreman in a family of six children. 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.
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.
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 and ended with him paying $1.5 million for "excessive compensation."
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. His dealership group had $756 million in sales in 2005.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
His Venice Dodge was one of the dealerships informed by Chrysler that it would not get its franchise renewed.
Early political career
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.
Political campaign - 2010 and 2012
In May 2009, Buchanan announced that he would be a candidate for re-election to Congress. He defeated Don Baldauf in the Republican primary, and faced Democratic nominee The Reverend James T. Golden in the General.
Buchanan won the 2010 General Election for Florida's 13th Congressional District with 68.9% of the vote.
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. 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.
Buchanan introduced a constitutional amendment in January 2007 which would require Congress to pass a balanced budget if ratified. 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. 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.
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.
On September 29, 2008, Buchanan voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, but changed his vote to support the bill on the October 3, 2008 second House vote .
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.
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.
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.
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.
Buchanan was chairman of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the board of the Florida state chamber of commerce. He also served as member of the board and the executive committee of United States Chamber of Commerce.
January 23, 2013