Boehner to appear at fundraiser with lawmaker embroiled in ethics probes

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will appear at a fundraising event with Rep. Vern Buchanan, the Florida Republican embroiled in ongoing ethics investigations.

The March 3 event will benefit Boehner's fundraising committee, according to an invitation obtained by The Hill, and will take place at a private residence in Sarasota, Fla., Buchanan's hometown. Supporters will pay a minimum of $500 per person for the reception and as much as $10,000 per couple for a chance to take a photograph with the Speaker.

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Buchanan is a top fundraiser for the GOP and serves as finance vice chairman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, so under normal circumstances, it wouldn't raise any eyebrows for him to pitch in for a fellow House member.

But the ethics allegations swirling around Buchanan have been ramping up pressure on the NRCC and House Republicans to distance themselves from the three-term congressman until the issues are resolved.

The Federal Election Commission dropped an investigation of an alleged straw-donor scheme involving reimbursements to employees at a car dealership owned by Buchanan. Employees of the dealership had donated to Buchanan's campaign, and the Justice Department is believed to be still investigating the incident.

Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee revealed in February it is investigating whether Buchanan violated federal law and House rules by failing to report positions in 17 entities in his required financial disclosures. The FEC also hit Buchanan with a fine in January over campaign paperwork errors.

And a front-page story in The New York Times last week revealed that a federal grand jury in Florida is hearing evidence about the straw-donor issue, and that FBI and IRS agents have contacted his former employees.

The March fundraiser is being organized by Boehner for Speaker, a joint fundraising committee that includes the NRCC, Ohio Republicans and Friends of John Boehner political action committee.

Boehner's political spokesman, Cory Fritz, said Boehner was glad that Buchanan would be able to join him on Saturday.

“The Speaker appreciates Congressman Buchanan’s hard work on behalf of the NRCC to ensure Republican members and candidates have the needed tools to compete and win in November," Fritz said. 

— This story was updated at 5:03 p.m.