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Panther Racing named in lawsuit
A Georgia businessman alleges in a new lawsuit that Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) helped steer a $1 million-plus loan to a racing-car team while also acting as an “advocate and liaison” for the company as it sought lucrative sponsorship deals with the National Guard.

Buyer vehemently denies the allegation and has threatened a defamation lawsuit against the businessman, Christopher Bowers, and Bowers’ attorney now says he is now going to drop any mention of Buyer in the legal action.

Bowers filed a lawsuit in federal court in Indiana on Oct. 20 claiming, among other things, that Buyer was part of a $1.05 million loan to Panther Racing in Sept. 2009. Panther Racing is the Indiana-based parent company of an IndyCar racing team. Its backers include Jim Harbaugh, the former Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback and coach of the Stanford University football team.

Bowers’ lawsuit stated that $550,000 of the 2009 loan to Panther Racing “originated from funds controlled by” Buyer. Bowers also said Buyer “influenced” another company, Advanced Green Technology, to provide the short-term loan to Panther Racing.

Buyer is retiring from Congress and not running for re-election this year.

In addition, Bowers alleged that Buyer “served as an advocate and liaison in the negotiation of various National Guard sponsorships” on behalf of Panther Racing. Buyer, a colonel in the Army Reserve, is the ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee and co-chairman of the National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus.

The National Guard is a “partner” with Panther Racing, according to the racing team’s website. Bowers states that the National Guard paid Panther Racing more than $30 million over the last three years for sponsorship rights.

Three Panther Racing employees, including Bowers, donated $6,900 to Buyer’s reelection campaign in Aug. 2008, according to Federal Election Commission records.

One of the same employees, Michael Griffin, gave another $250 to Buyer last year.

Bowers claims that Panther Racing owes his firm more than $2.7 million in commissions and back pay. Politico

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