Congressman’s Foundation Has Money for Golf Outings, but Not for Scholarships

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Rep. Steve Buyer

Frontier Foundation, established seven years ago by Congressman Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) to award scholarships, has yet to help any students, but it has financed Buyer’s golf game. Buyer’s foundation has collected more than $800,000, while not giving out a single scholarship, and prompting a government watchdog group to ask for an investigation of the congressman’s operation.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has written to the IRS to see if it will investigate whether the foundation violated federal tax law by “failing to operate for its stated public purpose of helping needy students and by doing little more than paying for the congressman to play golf with donors with interests before his committee.”
Buyer, who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been the beneficiary of donations from pharmaceutical and tobacco businesses. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), the drug industry’s main lobby, donated $200,000 to Buyer’s foundation.
CREW also is asking the Office of Congressional Ethics to delve into the matter and determine if Buyer violated ethics rules “by abusing a charity for private purposes and by trading legislative assistance for donations to the charity and a job for his son.”
PhRMA hired Buyer’s son, Ryan, to be its “federal affairs manager.”
In 2003, Buyer created the Frontier Foundation, with the intention of handing out scholarships once the fund reached $100,000. The foundation has now raised $880,000, but Buyer now claims it needs $1 million before it can start giving out assistance. It has been able to pay for fundraising golf outings at luxury locales, however.
-David Wallechinsky
Watchdog Files Complaints Against Buyer (by Maureen Groppe, Indianapolis Star)
Request for Investigation into Conduct of Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) (pdf)
Can a Donation Buy Legislation? (by Sharyl Atkisson, CBS News)


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