Published November 03, 2008
Who is M. Andrew Ross?
Normally, a $6.5-million campaign would get a lot of coverage in Washington, but this is not a normal year. The massive fundraising by the backers of this year's assisted-suicide measure, I-1000, has not gotten a fifth of the scrutiny that the campaign finances of the Rossi-Gregoire race has generated, for instance.So who is M. Andrew Ross? He gave $400,000 to a PAC supporting I-1000.The PDC forms recording his donation show he lives in Columbus, Ohio, and lists his occupation as "inventor." But why would an Ohio inventor give so much to make sure terminally ill people in Washington can legally take lethal medication? "My mother died of cancer. I used to practice law, Iím retired now, one of my first clients was a nice guy on tubes, quality of life down to zero. Some of these people would like to hasten their own death, have it under theyíre control," Ross told me today, adding, "I have no problem with people who donít want to do that."Ross is a retired lawyer who said he gave up on religion at the age of 12 and "decided to just be a free thinker."He graduated from Ohio State Universityís Moritz College of Law, and is an inventor as well, with patents on a Sterling engine. He flies planes and dabbles in aerial photography. He has donated to a failed assisted suicide measure in Maine, and says is involved because of the religious element to the argument. Like most assisted suicide backers, he thinks the Roman Catholic Church has been the biggest obstacle to passing the laws anywhere but Oregon."It's a matter of choice, and if a person doesn't have that choice with respect to their own existence, what choice do they have? That's a fundamental part of my own thinking," Ross said.He said he started to debate the matter with a Christian fundamentalist at a relativeís wedding, and spent years afterward in a lively correspondence, but, "We never got anywhere.""It got to be a religious issue. And my problem with that is when you try to make your religious views law," Ross said. "The founders were right to keep religion separate. You canít resolve religious issues like that; people believe them. You canít persuade them."He views his $400,000 donation Ė second in size only to former Gov. Booth Gardnerís half-million-dollar installment -- to the I-1000 campaign as a counter balance to the Catholic Churchís fundraising. (The church has actually been massively out-raised this year. See link above.)At the time, it seemed like a good investment, Ross added. "When I gave them that, it looked like the banks were going to have some serious issues. I figured, I might as well give them that rather than have it go into the black hole of wherever money goes when a bank fails."