Washington Prowler

Buyer Remorse

What's behind Indiana Republican's unexpected retirement?

By 2.1.10

Late last week, Rep. Steve Buyer announced his retirement from Congress, citing his wife's battle with a rare autoimmune disease. But mostly back home in Indiana, the rumors swirled the unexpected Republican retirement had more to do with the ethics complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

CREW claimed Buyer misused funds raised by his charity, the Frontier Foundation, which was founded by the congressman to help pay college tuitions for underprivileged youth. However, in its six years of existence, the foundation, which has raised more than $800,000, hasn't provided a scholarship to a single young person.

As with other CREW projects, which routinely target Republican elected officials and institutions, Democrats on Capitol Hill got an advance taste of the CREW filing two weeks ago, according to House staffer with ties to the OCE. "The Speaker and the majority leader both knew that CREW was filing this days before it actually happened," says the source. "Buyer is going to be better known around the country than he wants to be, and for all the wrong reasons."

That's because Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi late last week was encouraging her Democrat colleagues to provide reporters with the CREW Buyer complaint and was talking up the "ongoing corruption of the Republican Party" to reporters in off the record conversations.

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