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Former House Rep sentenced for insider trading

Heather Reed
Heather Reed | Flickr

Former representative Stephen Buyer was sentenced to 22 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman of the Southern District of New York for insider trading.

The decision came on Sept. 19, after Buyer was found guilty of insider trading several years after transiting from political office to work as a corporate consultant.

Once a member of the U.S. military, Buyer was elected to the House of Representatives in 1992. During his time in Washington, he served on the House Committee on Veteran Affairs and took the role of a leading prosecutor during President Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1998.

Buyer later served on the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, where he gained expertise in consulting and advice. This experience eventually aided him in starting his own corporate firm, the Steve Buyer Group, upon leaving office in 2011.

In 2018, Buyer bought shares of Sprint stock ahead of its $26.5 billion merger agreement with T-Mobile Inc., and subsequently sold the stock, garnering profits of over $126,000. Buyer nearly doubled this profit margin the following year when he bought shares of Navigant Consulting Inc. before Guidehouse, a consulting firm, acquired the company.

According to prosecutors, Buyer obtained information pertaining to the Sprint and T-Mobile merger at a golf event with a T-Mobile executive in Miami and learned of the upcoming Navigant purchase through a Guidehouse sales representative.

Buyer “abused positions of trust for illicit personal gain,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams stated after Judge Berman delivered his verdict. “Today, he faced justice for those acts.”

Prosecutors further stated that the 64-year-old former Republican representative “misappropriated material non-public information” acquired through interactions with company officials, placing “timely, profitable securities trades in brokerage accounts in his own name and the names of others.” They attributed these actions as means for a 36-month sentence. Their request was denied.

Buyer, nevertheless, maintained his innocence, telling the judge that his actions in life can be characterized by honesty and “good acts.” He stated that any trading advice he obtained, as well as any trading he conducted, was available to the public.

His lawyer, Daniel Alonso, stated that an appeal is upcoming and that “the best way to understand who Steve Buyer is is to read the defense’s publicly filed sentencing memorandum and the dozens of letters sent to Judge Berman on his behalf.”

While Buyer did not break the Security Exchange Commission’s trading guidelines as an active member of Congress, insider trading in politics is far from new. Many have suggested that substantive legislation must be passed to prevent any influence politicians may obtain during or after their time in office.

In July 2023, U.S. Senators Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, and New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand formally proposed a bipartisan act banning stock trading and stock ownership while increasing financial penalties for any wrongdoings.

The “Ban Stock Trading for Government Officials Act,” Sen. Hawley stated, is “common sense: ban elected and executive branch officials from trading or holding stocks, and put the American public first.”

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