Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) received a seven-figure yacht loan from a foreign bank looking to help shape last year’s Republican tax bill while Buchanan’s committee was working to write the legislation, according to the nonprofit Map Light.
> Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL), who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee and leads its tax policy subcommittee, has been under fire in recent weeks for purchasing a yacht on the same day he voted for the GOP tax package. Buchanan registered a 73-foot Ocean Alexander vessel named Entrepreneur with the U.S. Coast Guard a month later, according to federal records.
> Although Buchanan is one of the wealthiest members of Congress -- worth at least $80 million -- federal records show one of his limited liability companies financed the purchase with a BMO Harris Bank loan worth as much as $5 million. Since 2016, Buchanan’s companies have received three loans worth as much as $35 million from BMO Harris, which is the American subsidiary of the Bank of Montreal. In total, since he was appointed to the Ways and Means Committee in 2010, Buchanan and his companies have received between $17 million and $85 million worth of loans from four lenders.
Buchanan’s company received the yacht loan at the same time BMO Harris was lobbying lawmakers on the very same tax policy overseen by the Ways and Means Committee, according to the federal records reviewed by Map Light.
> Buchanan received a separate BMO Harris loan for a plane in 2016. Records show that loan, worth between $5 million and $25 million, was made around the same time that the bank began lobbying lawmakers on “tax reform proposals.”
> Craig Holman, an ethics advocate at Public Citizen, said that the bank’s loans to Buchanan’s company pose a “particularly egregious” conflict of interest.
> “It isn’t just business for Buchanan,” he said. “The loans grant Buchanan the luxuries of a personal jet and a yacht. It is very reasonable to assume those luxuries could well influence Buchanan’s official actions.”