Loose Lips

A Better Use, Perhaps, for Pete Ross’ Money?

By now you may know that Pete Ross is willing to spend a ridiculous amount of his own money to be D.C.'s next unpaid, powerless shadow senator. He's given his campaign $202,000 and has already spent nearly $70,000 of that on posters, literature, advertising in this publication, and a small army of field workers that seem to be at every event LL goes to.

And you probably also already know by now that Ross has a checkered past. He pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion charges in 2007 for lying on bankruptcy forms and failing to disclose all of his assets after his furniture business hit a rough patch and couldn't pay $200,000 worth of federal payroll taxes.

Speaking of his legal troubles, Ross told the Post: “Since that mistake, I have made restitution and sorted out my life again, and both my record and conscience are clear ... I made restitution and I paid everything.”

Well,  maybe not everything.

A deeper dive into the bankruptcy filings of Ross's company, Spectrum LTD, shows that it wasn't just federal incomes taxes that went unpaid. The District's Office of Tax and Revenue also filed a claim for $441,734.40 in mostly unpaid sales and use taxes, interest, and penalties. A spokeswoman for OTR says that when the business was dissolved and its assets sold off, the city's take came out to a measly $11,639.76—or about $430,000 less than what the District says it was owed. No additional payments have been received on that debt, the spokeswoman says.

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer's website makes pretty clear that corporate bankruptcies don't dissolve business owners of unpaid business taxes. But Ross' lawyer, David Lamb, says his client has never been assessed any debt since the bankruptcy related to the city's claim of unpaid taxes.

Lamb also suggests that the city's claim could very well be bogus. He says it's not uncommon for the the city to misapply sales taxes on local businesses and notes that Ross' company made its sales out of state. (Lamb declined to allow LL to speak to Ross about the case.)

The OTR spokeswoman did not respond to a question about why the office never pursued Ross, who isn't shy about boasting of his wealth, for the rest of the unpaid claim.

To be perfectly clear: if the city doesn't pursue him for the unpaid taxes, Ross is under no legal obligation to pay them. But LL can't help but thinking that maybe the $202,000 Ross is prepared to spend on a silly sideshow of a race could be put to better use.

  • Coffee Politics

    Yes pull up the dirt on the new guys I LOVE IT!

  • NE John

    Will this spoil his chances for the Hall of Fame?

  • Janice Morre

    And please don't forget that he was forced to pay just under 200K to the family of a child who was poisoned by lead while living in one of his rental properties. He tried to fight the lawsuit, claiming the parents had contributed to the poisoning. (I guess they should have just assumed the home was full of lead, and kept the baby away from walls and floorboards...) The judge was not impressed with his defense, and he eventually paid damages and all legal expenses for the child's family. This is not someone we want to represent us, not now, and certainly not when DC does have true representation with full voting privileges.

  • Drez

    This post is destined for a top 10 LL 2012 list.

  • Wrack

    OTR, you're on notice now: go get our money!!

  • Pete

    Between LL discovering tax revenue from sketchy pols and LDP keeping Doug Jemal's feet to the 'blighted building' fire, City Paper should receive half of the revenue they earn DC. It'd go a long way towards keeping them operating.

  • Petworthy

    He's a better fit for City Council.

  • Truth hurts

    Pretty sure one can't escape tax liens via bankruptcy. Good job LL.

  • Drez

    I nominate "Pete" for CP GM and DC CFO.
    Is that a conflict of interest?

  • cheesenpeas

    It'd be great if LL stopped taking money from this sketchball and providing advertising for him. I think a lot of people will assume that he's associated with LL/CityPaper, and even that you endorse him as a candidate because of these ads.

  • Mike Madden

    @cheesenpeas:

    Our advertising has nothing to do with our content. We actually endorsed Ross's opponent, as you may have seen the other day. We don't tell the advertising sales reps who to take money from, and they don't tell us who to write about -- works out well that way for everyone!

  • CDCWDC

    @cheesenpeas: you just got a Madden Beat Down!!!

  • CDCWDC

    LL: You are on FIRE!!! Can't wait for the encore...

  • maktoo

    Yay! Head off another overly-funded "candidate" for the Senate! I have yet to find a compelling reason to vote for him.

    Also, imagine my dismay when I found him and a volunteer electioneering outside the D.C. Emissions Station in SW earlier this month...His volunteer couldn't even give me a good reason why he should get our votes. ; )

  • Lexus

    I saw him at a Forum and told him to his face, "I would never, never vote for you...you and the other questionable candidates who are currently running for office."

  • NE John

    He can buy my vote for $17.50. Call me

  • Pingback: There are better ways to spend $202,000 | Neighbors United for DC Statehood

  • http://www.the51st.org Joshua Burch

    For $202,000 Pete Ross could be a real champion for Statehood by agreeing to fund:
    • Two full-time people to lobby Congress and organize neighborhoods to push for Statehood for one year
    • Bail for 1000 people who get arrested in opposition to Taxation Without Representation and that could last for a while since only 70 or so people were arrested in 2011
    • 545,945 bumper stickers that say "Support Statehood for New Columbia" almost one per person in our fair city/state!
    • 44,298 t-shirts that say "End Taxation Without Representation, Support New Columbian Statehood" which would give every child in a DCPS school a t-shirt promoting the cause
    • 448 4'x8'signs at the District border and beyond that say End Taxation Without Representation, Support Statehood For New Columbia

  • DJ Ren

    Wow Cheesenpeas, you got told worse than Holdadice!

  • DC LAWYER

    Pete THE CHEAT Ross has not paid his Campaign workers. Reports of over 30 black workers looking for Pete Ross to pay up!. If know anyone who has not been paid their money from the April 1, 2014 Pete Ross 2014 campaign please contact the District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance 202) 671-0547 and Dorothy Brizill dorothy@dcwatch.com

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