Mike Ross (politician)
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 4th district
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Jay Dickey|
|Succeeded by||Tom Cotton|
August 2, 1961 |
Texarkana, Arkansas, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Arkansas, Little Rock|
Michael Avery “Mike” Ross (born August 2, 1961) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who served as the U.S. Representative for Arkansas's 4th congressional district from 2001 to 2013. He is also a former small business owner, former member of the Arkansas State Senate and a former member of the Nevada County Quorum Court.
- 1 Early life, education and career
- 2 Arkansas State Senate
- 3 U.S. House of Representatives
- 4 Political positions
- 5 Political campaigns
- 6 Electoral history
- 7 ProPublica investigation
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life, education and career
Mike is a fifth-generation Arkansan, born August 2, 1961 in Texarkana, Arkansas. He lived in Prescott, Arkansas for many years until relocating to Little Rock, Arkansas in 2013. He is the grandson of farmers and a nurse and the son of two public school educators. He graduated high school in Hope, Arkansas and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, working his way through college as a local radio announcer.
Together with his wife, Holly, Ross owned and operated a small pharmacy in their hometown of Prescott, Arkansas, which they sold in May 2007. Mike and Holly Ross have been married for 30 years, and they have two grown children. They are members of the Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church in Little Rock, where they now live.
By the age of 20, Ross was driving and staffing then former Governor Bill Clinton as he successfully waged his "come back" campaign for a second term as Governor of Arkansas. During the 1980s, Ross was also vice president for colleges for the Young Democrats of Arkansas and served for many years on the Democratic Party of Arkansas's state committee and its executive committee.
Ross was a member of the Arkansas State Senate for ten years (1991-2001), before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for Arkansas's 4th congressional district in 2000. Ross left Congress in January 2013 after choosing not to seek a seventh term and, after a brief stint in the private sector as an officer and senior vice president at the Little Rock based non-profit Southwest Power Pool, he announced his candidacy for Governor of Arkansas on April 17, 2013.
Arkansas State Senate
In 1990, Ross was elected to the Arkansas State Senate becoming the legislature's youngest member at that time, where he served as chair of the Senate Children and Youth Committee. During his tenure, Ross worked alongside now-Governor Mike Beebe to help pass the Arkansas Academic Challenge scholarship program.
Ross served in the State Senate ten years, until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000.
U.S. House of Representatives
- Committee on Energy and Commerce
- NATO Parliamentary Assembly
Health Care Reform or "Obamacare"
In a statement after his vote in January 2011, Mike Ross said: "I have said from the beginning that I believe we absolutely need health care reform, but we need commonsense health care reform that reflects Arkansas values. This law was more than 2,000 pages, cut Medicare by half a trillion dollars, placed huge unfunded mandates on our states and authorized the IRS to fine people who can't afford to buy health insurance. An overwhelming majority of my constituents continue to oppose this health care reform law and I believe we should repeal it, start over and listen to the majority of the American people -- not the special interests and party leaders in Washington." 
Mike Ross supports Arkansas's bipartisan Medicaid expansion known as the "private option" - the state’s plan to use federal Medicaid money to pay for private insurance for people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.  Ross said that "although he voted against the Affordable Care Act, he supports the private option, which he called an 'Arkansas-specific, bipartisan and market-based solution' that helps working families. Arkansas’ private option is a great example of what we can accomplish when we listen to one another and work together in a bipartisan way, and, as governor, I will support the law and its continued funding." 
The Blue Dogs and health care
On June 19, 2009, Ross made clear that he and a group of other fiscally conservative, moderate Democrats, known as the Blue Dog Coalition, were increasingly unhappy with the direction that health-care legislation was taking in the House. They claimed the health care reform bill was being written behind closed doors without their input and that the proposals being consider fall short in reducing costs and increasing efficiency, outlining only a fraction of what will be required to achieve a product that does not add to the deficit. Ross cited, among other things, provisions that major health-care companies also strongly oppose. Ross was the guest of honor at a special "health-care industry reception," one of at least seven fundraisers for the Arkansas lawmaker held by health-care companies or their lobbyists this year, according to publicly available invitations. According to Ross's Federal Election Commission Disclosure Report, which every candidate must file quarterly, eight percent (8%) of his total campaign contributions have come from the health care industry in the last election cycle (2007-8).
Ross was thrust into the national spotlight on July 21 when he and a group of seven Blue Dog Democrats on Energy & Commerce bucked their party's leaders and brought the committee mark up process of H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, to a halt. (This piece of legislation would eventually die and never receive a vote on the House floor. H.R. 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act, is the House health care reform bill that would eventually be considered by the House of Representatives, and Ross voted against that bill.) House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman postponed meeting publicly to discuss the health-care legislation to negotiate with the Blue Dogs, meeting privately with Ross and other members of the so-called Blue Dog Coalition, conservative Democrats who sit on the committee and could join Republicans and vote down a bill they don't like since the panel has 36 Democrats and 23 Republicans.
After days of back-to-back meetings and intense negotiations into the night, four of the seven Blue Dog Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Ross, said they resolved their differences with Chairman Henry Waxman of California and were able to force House leadership to agree on several provisions, namely that the full House would not vote on the legislation until at least September so lawmakers would have time to read the bill and listen to constituents.
Other concessions won by Blue Dogs, which drew immediate opposition from liberals in the chamber, would shave about 10 percent from the health care overhaul's $1 trillion, 10-year price tag, in part by limiting subsidies to people who are not insured. The exemption for small businesses would be doubled so that only businesses with payrolls greater than $500,000 a year would be required to offer insurance or pay a tax equivalent to 8 percent of their payroll.
Because many Blue Dogs, especially Ross, had serious concerns about the bill's potential harmful effects on rural doctors and rural hospitals, the group forced House leadership to accept that the government would negotiate rates with health care providers instead of using Medicare rates in any so-called public option.
However, some of the concessions to Ross set off a revolt among members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who said they feared that the public insurance plan was being weakened. “We do not support this,” said Representative Lynn Woolsey, Democrat of California, co-chairwoman of the progressive caucus. "It’s a nonstarter." 
After Congress' August recess, Ross announced that he could not support a bill with a Public Option. In a letter to constituents, he claimed that "An overwhelming number of you oppose a government-run health insurance option, and it is your feedback that has led me to oppose the public option as well." However, a Research 2000 poll, commissioned by the left-leaning group Daily Kos, found that a majority of his district actually supported a Public Option. While a poll from the University of Arkansas only found support for the public option at 39 percent. Ross ultimately voted against the Health Care Reform bill that passed the House on November 7, 2009 In January 2011, Ross was one of 3 Democrats to vote with the unified Republican caucus for the repeal of the recent health care reform law.
In 2011, he co-sponsored HR 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The bill contained an exception for "forcible rape," which opponents criticized as potentially excluding drug-facilitated rape, date rape, and other forms of rape. The bill also allowed an exception for minors who are victims of incest.
Throughout his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ross was consistently ranked as one of the most independent and moderate Members of Congress by National Journal. When Ross left Congress in 2013, he was ranked as the sixth most conservative Democrat in the entire U.S. House of Representatives. 
Ross won a narrow victory against incumbent Jay Dickey in 2000 by portraying himself as a moderate, like the political tendencies of his district. In contrast, Dickey was seen as a controversial conservative because of his comments on stem cell research and homosexuality. Ross was the only Democrat outside of California to defeat a Republican incumbent.
Ross easily defeated Dickey in a 2002 rematch, then ran unopposed in 2004. He picked up an easy victory in the 2006 election, defeating the similarly named Republican, real estate executive Joe Ross, 75 percent-25 percent.
Ross had no Republican opponent but did face Hot Springs lawyer and Green Party candidate Joshua Drake, who he beat with a decisive 87% of the vote.
Winning 58% of the vote, Ross handily defeated Republican nominee Beth Anne Rankin (40%) and Green Party nominee Josh Drake (2%). Ross was the only congressional representative of Arkansas's delegation seeking reelection in 2010 and became the only House Democrat in the Arkansas Congressional Delegation.
2014 gubernatorial campaign
In November 2010, Ross said that his interests lie in Arkansas, not in national party politics and that "it's no secret" that he'd want to help lead the state "at some point in the future." He said that he does not know if that will be in 2014.
On July 25, 2011, Ross announced that he would retire from Congress at the end of 2012. As for possibly running for Governor of Arkansas in 2014, he said "Whether I run for Governor in 2014 is a decision I have not yet made and won't make until sometime after my term in this Congress ends. But I do know if I was re-elected to the U.S. Congress next year, my term in the Congress would overlap with the Governor's race. I believe it would be impossible to successfully run for Governor here at home, while effectively carrying out my congressional duties in Washington."
In May 2012, Ross announced that he would not run for governor in 2014. Instead, he became senior vice president for government affairs and public relations at the Little Rock-based, nonprofit Southwest Power Pool.
However, Ross resigned his position as an officer and senior vice president with Southwest Power Pool on April 2, 2013, to "pursue another opportunity in public service."  Ross said he received numerous calls and e-mails from all over the state to reconsider his decision not to run for governor and, on April 17, 2013, Ross formally announced his campaign for governor in his hometown of Prescott, Ark.
By April 29, 2013, Mike Ross tweeted that he had raised more than half a million dollars in the first ten days of the campaign.
|Arkansas's 4th Congressional District House Election, 2000|
|Arkansas's 4th Congressional District House Election, 2002|
|Arkansas's 4th Congressional District House Election, 2004|
|Arkansas's 4th Congressional District House Election, 2006|
|Arkansas's 4th Congressional District House Election, 2008|
|Arkansas's 4th Congressional District House Election, 2010|
|Republican||Beth Anne Rankin||71,526||40.15%||+40.15%|
On September 22, 2009, an investigative report co-published by a New York City-based group ProPublica and the The Politico reported that in 2007, Ross was paid $420,000 for the building and lot of his family pharmacy in Prescott, Arkansas by USA Drug, a Pine Bluff, Arkansas-based pharmacy chain. The property had been assessed in 2007 by the county at $263,000; an independent appraiser hired by ProPublica put the 2009 value of the property at $198,000, although it was well into an economic recession that began in 2008.
USA Drug also paid roughly $1.2 million for related assets of the property, such as stock, and paid roughly $100,000 for a non-compete agreement. As of the date of the report, Holly Ross remained the pharmacist at Holly's Health Mart under USA Drug.
Additionally, USA Drug owner Stephen L. LaFrance donated $2,300, the maximum contribution allowed, to Ross' campaign two weeks after the sale was made. In two previous elections, LaFrance had supported Ross' opponent Jay Dickey, a close friend of LaFrance.
Following up on the story, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported shortly thereafter on September 23 that, “Richard Jackson, a professor of pharmacy administration at Mercer University in Atlanta and an expert in evaluating the worth of pharmacies, said the price tag for the pharmacy’s assets was ‘well within the ballpark’ of what similar pharmacies in similar communities would bring.”
The same article continued saying that Jackson agreed that the keys for the buyer of a pharmacy are those assets — such as the inventory, the fixtures and the “good will” the business has established in the community, an intangible asset “with significant value especially in a rural area.”
It quoted Jackson as saying that the price the Rosses received for the pharmacy’s assets — between $500,000 and $1 million — is “very average” and that “there’s nothing unusual about that whatsoever. I value pharmacies every day, and most are going to fall within that range.” He also commented on the noncompete agreement – standard in pharmacy sales – saying that “people come to that pharmacy not because of the bricks and mortar, but because of the pharmacist. There is a distinct and significant value to that pharmacist being there.”
That same article continued saying, “Scott Pace of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association echoed Jackson, noting that the sale of any pharmacy’s assets would take into consideration a number of factors in addition to the value of the real estate. He provided data from the National Community Pharmacists Association showing that the average independent community pharmacy had $3.6 million in sales in calendar year 2007, with an average inventory of more than $298,000.” 
On September 25, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported that the only other pharmacy owner in Prescott — Ross’ former political and business rival — said the deal seemed fair. All Care pharmacy owner state Sen. Percy Malone was reported to say, “I would have bought it for that." In 1992, Malone and Ross ran a spirited Democratic primary campaign against each other for the state Senate, the Democrat Gazette reported. Malone said he “didn’t see anything out of line” in the price USA Drug paid and added that since there were only two drugstores in the town of 3,686 people, the price would likely be higher than the property’s assessed value.
The same article interviewed other pharmacy owners in Arkansas who have in recent years have had similar business transactions, such as David Smith who sold Central Pharmacy in Conway to Cardinal Health Care in 2006. Cardinal subsequently sold it to the Medicine Shoppe. Smith, who manages the pharmacy said that he received at least $50,000 in a noncompete agreement that stipulated that he couldn’t work for another pharmacy within five miles (8 km) for a threeyear period. Holly and Mike Ross received $110,000, but their noncompete agreement came with much more stringent terms. They agreed not to work for a competitor within 20 miles (32 km) for a period of 10 years. Smith said USA Drug “got an incredible deal." That’s because, Smith said, to a great extent a pharmacy’s value is tied up in the pharmacist himself. “The store revolves around the store owner or pharmacist,” he said. “That’s the face people trust.” To illustrate how important the noncompete agreement is, he said it was a “huge” deal that LaFrance hasn’t switched signs on the front of Holly’s Health Mart. “It’s a very shrewd move on his part to have retained that name,” he said.
The same article stated that it’s also common for a pharmacy chain to pay higher than assessed property values when acquiring land and buildings. Larger chains have paid premiums for land in smaller Arkansas towns in recent years it reported. For instance, Walgreen Co., the Illinois-based drug giant, purchased 2.8 acres (11,000 m2) and a building in Wynne in 2007 for $650,000. The current value of the land, according to the Cross County assessor’s office is $145,800. The same year, the chain bought an empty 1.3-acre (5,300 m2) plot in Newport for $560,000. In 2008, the Jackson County assessor pegged the land’s value at $35,900. And in 2008, according to Garland County records, Walgreen paid $990,000 for 1.8 acres (7,300 m2) and a building that was listed with a $282,650 value.
- Millman, Joel and Katie Glueck. "Two Democrats Bow Out of Re-Election Bids," Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2011.
- "Mike Ross Set to Announce Run for Governor". fox16. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
- Dan Eggen (July 31, 2009). "Industry Is Generous To Influential Bloc". Washington Post.
- "CANDIDATE (H0AR04038) SUMMARY REPORTS - 2007-2008 CYCLE". Query.nictusa.com. 2008-12-31. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- Perry Bacon Jr. (July 23, 2009). "Reform Stance Puts Spotlight on Blue Dog Democrats". Washington Post.
- "Latest AP - President-White House Headlines". CBS News. Retrieved 2010-07-11.[dead link]
- [dead link]
- Carolyn Lochhead (July 30, 2009). "Dem leaders, 'Blue Dogs' compromise". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Robert Pear and David M. Herszenhorn (July 29, 2009). "House Democrats End Impasse on Health Bill". New York Times.
- "Blue Dog Ross comes out against Public Option". Washington Post. September 8, 2009.
- ", Blue Dog Ross comes out against Public Option". Washington Post. September 8, 2009.
- . September 17, 2009 http://www.dailykos.com/statepoll/2009/9/17/AR/377. Missing or empty
- . November 19, 2009 http://www.newsweek.com/id/224198/page/2. Missing or empty
- . November 7, 2009 http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll887.xml. Missing or empty
- Full text of House Resolution 3: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
- "What is 'forcible rape' exactly?". The Washington Post.
- Mike Ross on the Issues
- <Project Vote Smart
- Associated Press (2010-11-04). "Ross hints he could run for Ark. governor in 2014, says he won't seek top congressional post". Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
- "Mike Ross Says He Won't Run For Arkansas Governor". 4029 News. 14 May 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- Marcus Stern (September 22, 2009). "Rep. Mike Ross Raises Eyebrows With Healthy Haul". The Politico.
- "Rep. Mike Ross Responds to ProPublica-Politico Investigation of Pharmacy Sale". ProPublica. September 22, 2009.
- "2007 sale on up and up, Ross says". Arkansas Democrat Gazette. September 23, 2009.
- "Ross lays out details on sale of drugstore". Arkansas Democrat Gazette. September 25, 2009.
- Mike Ross for Governor
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Biography at Ballotpedia
- Biography at NNDB
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Congressional profile at GovTrack
- Congressional profile at OpenCongress
- Congressional profile at Roll Call
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Financial information (federal office) at OpenSecrets.org
- Financial investments (personal) at The Washington Post
- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Legislation sponsored at The Library of Congress
- Voting record at The Washington Post
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
- Collected news and commentary at The Washington Post
- Profile at SourceWatch
- Congressman Mike Ross official U.S. House site (archive)
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 4th congressional district