For Immediate Release
Matt Jacob 202.408.5565
CREW Files IRS and Ethics Complaints Against Rep. Steve Buyer
WASHINGTON - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
filed complaints with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and the
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) and his
so-called charity, the Frontier Foundation, Inc. CREW alleges Rep.
Buyer has used the charity to foot golf fundraisers at exclusive
resorts where he hobnobs with corporate donors - who also contribute to
his campaign committee and leadership PAC - who have business before
Rep. Buyer helped found Frontier in 2003 and is its
honorary chairman. Family members and political confidants, including
his daughter and son, make up its board and run its day-to-day
operations and it long shared an address with his campaign committee.
Although Frontier claims its central purpose is to provide scholarship
funds for Indiana students to attend college, in its six years of
existence it has not awarded a single scholarship. Even the paltry
donations the foundation has made have no relationship to scholarships
- largely, they went to a charity run by a pharmaceutical company
lobbyist and the NRA.
Instead, Frontier has held fundraisers at exclusive golf resorts
where representatives from corporations and trade groups with issues
before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on which Rep. Buyer
sits, have access to the congressman. PhRMA alone has donated over
$200,000 to Frontier, with other contributions coming from
telecommunications, tobacco and alcohol, health, and the other
pharmaceutical interests. These entities also have contributed heavily
to Rep. Buyer's campaign committee and leadership PAC. In addition,
PhRMA hired Rep. Buyer's son, Ryan, straight out of college.
Rep. Buyer has taken legislative action supported by these
contributors. In 2007, he helped defeat a provision opposed by drug
manufacturers and broadcasters that would have imposed a three-year ban
on advertising new drugs, and he later opposed a bill giving the FDA
the authority to regulate tobacco.
CREW asked the IRS to investigate whether Frontier 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.
CREW also asked the OCE to investigate whether Rep. 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
CREW executive director Melanie Sloan stated, "Apparently, Rep.
Buyer did not pay very close attention to the Jack Abramoff scandal. He
seems to have missed the lesson that charities are not created to allow
congressmen to play golf with their cronies. It is not quite stealing
from orphans, but it is hard to imagine something much more callous
than playing golf on the backs of poor students - at least one of whom
surely could have gone to college on the money Frontier spent on Rep.
Buyer's golf trips." Sloan continued, "The IRS, at least, frowns on
such behavior. There is always hope Congress will too."
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.