Peter A. Ross, a District businessman who has poured more than $100,000 into his campaign for shadow senator, is a convicted felon who failed to pay more than $200,000 in federal employment taxes, according to government records.
Ross, owner of Spectrum Ltd., is running against shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown in the April 3 Democratic primary for one of the District’s two ceremonial, nonpaying positions on Capitol Hill.
After he poured $102,000 of his own money into his campaign, Ross has been making inroads, including peppering the city with flashy, expensive fliers.
But Ross’s past conviction is becoming a factor in the race. In March 2007, Ross pleaded guilty to failing to remit $203,651 in employment taxes to the IRS between Sept. 30, 1989, and Sept. 30, 2002. He said he servied 90days in a halfway house.
In an interview Friday, Ross acknowledged his record, but said he is out to prove to District residents that he has “learned his lesson” about past “bad judgment.”
“Since that mistake, I have made restitution and sorted out my life again, and both my record and conscience are clear,” said Ross, 65, who lives in Foxhall Village in Ward 3. “I made restitution and I paid everything.”
The Post could not immediately confirm that Ross made financial restitution as part of his sentence.
Ross said his business, which manufactures furniture, experienced a tough stretch during the recession in the early 1990s. Ross said he was forced to file for bankruptcy, but has since revived his business career.
“I made some bad decisions. I am not going to deny it,” Ross said. “I lost everything.”
But Ross maintains that he would be more effective than Brown, who is seeking a second term, as the city’s representative in the Senate.
In a letter he’s preparing to send to area media outlets Monday, Ross writes about his passion for voting rights and his hopes that the District and federal government will be based on “honesty and transparency.” Ross adds that he would be a full-time representative for D.C. residents because he’s preparing to hand over his business to his sons.
Still, with the District‘s reputation already battered by a string of ethical lapses in government, voters may be reticent to elect a shadow senator with a felony tax conviction.
Ross, however, is pushing ahead with his campaign. He noted that the Washington Times carried a story about his conviction in 2007.
“I knew this was going to come out,” Ross said. “Unfortunately, this was a part of my life. I did wrong. I can’t hide it. It’s all public.
On Thursday, Ross scored a victory when he kept Brown from winning the 60 percent needed to secure the endorsement of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club. Ross said he’s spent only half of the money he’s poured into his campaign. He does not rule out investing more of his wealth into the effort before the primary.
“I am perfectly capable of putting in more,” Ross said. “I could easily put in substantially more than I already have.”