Blue Dog profited on sale of property to campaign contributor
Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) has found himself in the role of a de facto spokesman for the crucial Blue Dog coalition in the House during this summer's health care debate. With increased attention, however, comes increased scrutiny.
Ross sold his business at an inflated price to a pharmacy chain whose owner is a campaign contributor and has strong views on the health care debate in Washington, according to an investigation of his personal financial disclosures by ProPublica appearing in this morning's Politico.
The Arkansas-based pharmacy chain USA Drug, with more than 170 stores in five states, bought Holly's Health Mart in 2007 for between $1 million and $1.67 million, according to Ross' financial disclosure reports for that year. The total includes $420,000 for the property itself. But local officials assessed the property at only $263,000, and an appraisal by ProPublica in August valued the property even lower.
Two weeks after making the sale, Ross also accepted a $2,300 campaign contribution - the maximum allowed - from Stephen L. LaFrance Sr., owner of USA Drug.
LaFrance has made no secret of his views on health care reform: "Universal health care will ruin our health care in America," he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2007. "There'll be long lines, they won't be able to get treated, potential doctors will be afraid to go into medical school, there will be an outflux of doctors - in my opinion. It's not broke, and don't fix it."
Since 2007, ProPublica reports, Ross has received more than $300,000 in campaign funds from "health-related interests" - more than he has received from any other industry.