Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jennings Fact-Checks Buchanan Ad

AD WATCH: Buchanan Makes False Claims to Distract From Ethical Problems

Misrepresents newspaper quotes in connection with lawsuits

SARASOTA, FL – September 18, 2008 – In an ad that began airing earlier this week, Rep. Vern Buchanan misuses quotes and logos from newspapers and television stations to deflect from allegations of campaign fraud and unethical business practices stemming from recent lawsuits against himself and his businesses.

“Once again, Rep. Buchanan is avoiding responding to these serious allegations. Instead of any explanations, Buchanan releases an ad that distorts the words of the media to divert attention away from the real issue – his inability to be open and honest with the people he represents,” said Christine Jennings spokesperson Melissa Smith. “Vern Buchanan should give voters clear and direct answers about these serious allegations, instead of spending millions to blanket the airwaves with misrepresentations.”


Buchanan Claim: “Ugly, Character Assassination, False – that’s what the press is saying about the politically motivated attacks on Vern Buchanan.

FACT: Buchanan has taken quotes out of context to misrepresent the press’s coverage of lawsuits filed against him and his businesses.

“Ugly” (Bradenton Herald, June 20, 2008): This selective quotation is nearly three months old, does not refer to any of the charges in the pending lawsuits, and is about the “Buchanan-Jennings duel.” “The Buchanan-Jennings duel has yet to start in full force, and it's already getting ugly. Like last time.” [Bradenton Herald, 6/20/08]

“Character assassination” (Bradenton Herald, August 3, 2008): Buchanan again quotes out of context from the Bradenton Herald editorial, in which Jennings’ campaign manager goes on the record as saying the campaign is "absolutely not" connected to the lawsuits, which is what the Herald was editorializing as “character assassination.” [Bradenton Herald, 8/3/08]

FACT: Buchanan has consistently refused to answer questions about the pending lawsuits against him

“False” (WFLA, August 15, 2008): According to transcripts, WFLA reporters and anchors have never editorialized on the merits of the claims against Buchanan. In fact, Buchanan actually fled when asked about the allegations against by WFLA reporter Mark Douglas at a press conference; in response to a question about allegations by former Buchanan employee Carlo Bell, Buchanan would only respond, “I’m running to catch a plane.” [WFLA, 07/29/08]

Buchanan Claim: One even said, ‘be skeptical of these accusations.’”

FACT: Buchanan’s Businesses Have a History of Ending Up in Court

The ad fails to mention that, given Buchanan’s long history of lawsuits against him and his businesses, these accusations should be fully investigated. Over the years, Buchanan and his businesses have been sued more than 180 times. []

Buchanan has previously run a business that ran into numerous lawsuits, including several that he was forced to settle. The bankruptcy, lawsuits related to his time running American Speedy and a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over the money he received from Merrill Lynch stretched through the 1990s. As Buchanan was building his Florida business empire, he was still dealing with the fallout from the one crumbling in Michigan.

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.

Many former associates didn't return calls. Others cited confidentiality agreements from settled lawsuits or said that they feared Buchanan would sue them if they spoke publicly about their experience with him. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 10/6/05]

Buchanan Claim: “Vern Buchanan -- honest, independent, fighting for change”

FACT: Buchanan Named One of the 20 Most Corrupt Members in Congress

* Vern Buchanan has been named one of the most corrupt members of Congress by a non-partisan ethics organization for allegations of illegal campaign contributions. [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, accessed 9/17/08]

FACT: Buchanan Voted with the Republican Party over 90% of the Time. [Washington Post Congressional Votes Database, accessed 9/18/08]