|Ranking Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee|
January 3, 2007 - January 3, 2011
|Chair of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee|
January 3, 2005 - January 3, 2007
|Member of the |
U.S. House of Representatives
January 3, 1993 - January 3, 2011
|Constituency||5th District (1993-2003) |
4th District (2003-2011)
|Born||November 26, 1958|
Rensselaer, Indiana, U.S.
|Education||The Citadel (BS)|
Valparaiso University (JD)
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1984-1987 (active)|
|Unit||Army Judge Advocate General's Corps|
Stephen Earle Buyer ( BOO-y?r; born November 26, 1958) is the former U.S. Representative for Indiana's 4th congressional district, and previously the 5th district, serving from 1993 until 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party. Buyer retired the rank of colonel in the United States Army Reserve.
On January 29, 2010, Buyer announced he would not seek a tenth term to the House to spend more time with his wife, who has an incurable autoimmune disease.
Buyer was born in Rensselaer, Indiana. In 1976 he graduated from North White High School, where he had been class president. In 1980 he received a B.S. degree from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and in 1984 he received a J.D. degree from the Valparaiso University School of Law.
Buyer served three years on active duty in the Army between 1984 and 1987. His first civilian job, from 1987 to 1998, was as an Indiana state deputy attorney general; he then started his own private law practice. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representative in November 1992, at age 33.
Buyer attended The JAG School at the University of Virginia and entered U.S. Army JAG Corps. As an Army reserve officer, had three years of active duty after graduating from law school in 1984. During the Gulf War (1990-1991), Buyer, then a captain, spent five months on active duty giving legal counsel to commanders and interrogating Iraqi P.O.W.s.
On March 20, 2003, Buyer said to The United States Congress that "I have been called to active duty in the United States Army. Pending further orders, I request immediate indefinite leave of the United States House of Representatives to accommodate my military duties." He also said that "a need was identified, of which Congressman Buyer has the unique skill and experience to meet the requirements," to serve in Iraq. Claiming to be called to active duty, he took a leave of absence from Congress.
Buyer spent his paid absence from Congress in his home in Monticello Indiana. Ten days later, he said he had not been activated, contradicting his previous statement and that he was returning to Congress. Defense Department rules prevent those on active duty from campaigning for and holding elective office. Thus in June 2003, the Indianapolis Star reported that the Army, in a March 31 letter to Buyer signed by Army Secretary Thomas White, had rejected Buyer's offer to serve in the Iraq War because "we are able to meet the need without your participation," and "we are concerned that your presence would put in jeopardy the safety of those serving around you." 
In 1998, Buyer served one of the House managers (prosecutors) in the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.
In his 1992 campaign, Buyer supported bringing to a vote on the House floor a Congressional amendment for term limits on members of Congress. He voted for the measure and it received a majority of vote but not the 2/3 votes needed to pass.
Buyer, who interrogated captured Iraqis during the Gulf War, voted against the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, specifically the no torture amendment offered by Senator John McCain. He reasoned that torture was already unlawful. He stated, "I think the people of Indiana need to know that there's a lot of grandstanding going on here, there's a lot of self-projection."
In June 2009, Buyer became the subject of some prime-time TV news attention when he likened the physical effects of smoking tobacco to those of smoking dried, rolled lettuce or grass when taking the floor against the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. He stated:
[Y]ou could have smoked that lettuce and you would still end up with the same problems. You could cut the grass in your yard, dry it and roll it up in a cigarette and smoke it, and you're still going to have a lot of problems. It is the smoke that kills, not the nicotine. It's the smoke.
In working to improve America's health care system Buyer believes Congress should be focusing on what is broken with the current health care system and keep what is working and leave alone what Americans like about their health care and insurance, "So, when we talk about health care reform, we want to preserve that which is right, and we want to work on that which is wrong. When my Democrat colleagues of the leadership talk about health care reform, it's about a government-run, socialized health system. Let's reject that and let's work together."
The American Conservative Union gave him a lifetime rating of 91%.
When Buyer first ran for Congress, in 1992, he faced three-term Democratic incumbent Jim Jontz in what was then the 5th District, comprising twenty mostly rural counties in north central Indiana. Republican Bud Hillis had represented the district for 16 years until his retirement in 1986. Jontz, then a state senator, was elected in the face of divided Republican opposition. Buyer defeated Jontz by just over 5,000 votes. He would never face another contest nearly that close, and was reelected four times from this district with an average of 62 percent of the vote.
In 2002, Buyer's district was renumbered as the 4th District, made up of 12 counties in west central Indiana, after the state lost a district in the 2000s round of redistricting. Buyer had five opponents in the Republican primary, including fellow Republican congressman Brian Kerns. Buyer won with 55 percent of the primary vote. He easily won this heavily Republican district in November with 71 percent of the vote, and was reelected three more times after that with an average of 63 percent of the vote.
In November 2008, Buyer defeated Democrat Nels Ackerson, spending $895,000 compared to $845,000 by Ackerson. Buyer won with 60 percent of the vote.
On January 29, 2010, Buyer announced his retirement from Congress. In the following January, Buyer became a lobbyist for McKesson Corp.; as he was prohibited from lobbying Congress due to a one-year "cooling off" period mandated for all retired Congressmen by federal law, he stated that his lobbying would be restricted to the executive branch. in 2012 Buyer started working for R.J. Reynolds, promoting the use of smokeless tobacco.
Between January 2006 and October 2009, the largest combined donations to Buyer's campaigns came from the pharmaceutical industry ($263,000), and the healthcare professional industry ($214,000). In recent years, his largest corporate donors have included Eli Lilly and Company, AT&T Inc. and Reynolds American.
In 2003, Buyer created The Frontier Education Foundation, whose stated purpose is educational funding for college students. The initial $25,000 to start the foundation came from the pharmaceutical lobbying organization PhRMA. The foundation was located in Buyer's campaign office until 2009, when after a complaint was filed, it moved to an office 3 blocks away. In addition, weeks before that interview, Buyer's campaign chairman, who had also managed the Foundation, ceased operating as the Foundation's director. She was receiving a salary from the foundation ranging $12,000-$17,000 a year. Buyer's daughter Colleen was the president of the foundation until August 1, 2009. His son Ryan, in 2009, was director of the foundation, according to filings with the Indiana Secretary of State 
In early October 2009, Buyer's press secretary referred questions to the foundation, saying "It's not Congressman Buyer's foundation," although the foundation shared an office with Buyer's campaign office in Monticello. Several days later, Buyer said he had created the foundation, with the goal of creating a sustainable organization to award scholarships to high school seniors.
As of the end of 2008, annual fundraising golf outings had raised more than $880,000 for the foundation. Almost all the contributions were from 20 companies and trade organizations that had interests before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Buyer is a member. As of October 2009, the foundation had not awarded any scholarships, and had given out only $10,500 in charitable grants, almost half of which went to a cancer fund run by the chief Washington lobbyist for Eli Lilly and Company. Buyer said the foundation would need to raise at least $1 million to become self-sustaining; it would then begin awarding scholarships.
In June 2009, Buyer said "there is no connection" between his legislative actions and donations to the foundation. "I'm not an officer. I'm not a board director," he said of his role in the non-profit. "Do I help the foundation? Yes, I do. Do I help other charity groups? Yes, I do."
On January 25, 2010, CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) filed complaints against Rep. Buyer with the Office of Congressional Ethics and the IRS regarding possible ethics and federal tax law violations referencing The Frontier Education Foundation. The complaint was later dismissed.
Buyer's son Ryan received a business administration degree from Ball State University in 2008, and was hired in June 2008 as a federal affairs manager for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a major lobbying organization in Washington, D.C., and the largest donor to the foundation. His position is just one step above an entry-level position, according to Ken Johnson, a senior vice president with PhRMA. "He's not a lobbyist. He researches legislation and writes reports," Johnson said. He first worked for PhRMA as an intern while in college. Johnson said that Ryan "went through the formal interview process, and he was brought on at the lowest rung of the organization as an intern and demonstrated a lot of willingness to learn and a great work ethic." 
Buyer's wife Joni works as a Business System Analyst at Purdue University, in West Lafayette. Spending more time with his wife, due to her incurable autoimmune disease, was cited as the reason Buyer left Congress.
Dear Mr. Speaker: I have been called to active duty in the United States Army. Pending further orders, I request immediate indefinite leave of the United States House of Representatives to accommodate my military duties. Respectfully, Steve Buyer, Member of Congress
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 5th congressional district
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 4th congressional district
| Chair of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee
| Ranking Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee|