Corporate Money In, No Money Out: What’s Going On At Rep. Buyer-Linked Foundation?

October 12, 2009 5:57 a.m.

A foundation closely linked to Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) has collected over $800,000 in donations, much of it from industry sources with stakes in legislation moving through Buyer’s committees, but has given out just $10,500 in six years and spent a whopping $258,136 in operating expenses, the Lafayette Journal & Courier reported Sunday.

Buyer’s daughter is the president of the Frontier Foundation, which was set up purportedly to give scholarships to Indiana students, Buyer himself was described as “honorary chairman” in a 2004 solicitation letter, and the organization in June listed Buyer’s district office as its office.

Despite all of that, Buyer’s office told the newspaper, “It’s not Congressman Buyer’s foundation,” and declined an interview request.

The Journal & Courier reports:

Frontier Foundation’s donations over the years have come primarily from organizations with stakes in legislation moving through committees on which Buyer sits.

Those include the pharmaceutical, health insurance and tobacco industries — which have a stake in bills that go through the House Subcommittee on Health — and the telecommunications industry. Bills affecting the latter go through the House Subcommittee on Communications, Telecommunications and the Internet.

Attempts to reach Buyer for comment were unsuccessful. His press secretary referred questions to Frontier Foundation and said there was no connection between Buyer and the foundation.

During six years of operation, the organization has had $258,136 in operating expenses. Those included $83,150 in fundraising expenses, $48,264 for travel, and $4,499 for meals.

Gifts and awards accounted for 3.9 percent of the foundation’s expense total. Mattix was paid more each year to run the foundation — $12,000 in 2004, rising to $17,275 in 2007 and 2008 — than the foundation gave out in six years of operation.

Nice work, if you can get it.

Among the industry donors to the foundation are: Eli Lilly & Co, PhRMA, National Association of Broadcasters. And among the very few recipients of the foundation’s largess is: the NRA Foundation.

The foundation says it is waiting to hit the $1 million mark before it starts handing out scholarships. But that will be tough to do, given the high operating costs. Up until now, the foundation has apparently been merely a perpetual recipient and solicitor of donations from corporate interests.

We’ll be digging more on this today, and we’ll let you know what we find out.

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