Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Another fine mess at the CDC: Joint letter asks Congressmen Rob Woodall & Lacy Clay for answers re: institutional cover-up involving agency director Thomas Frieden

Thomas Frieden MD MPH (source)

Today former IL congressional candidate Tim Bagwell PhD (who now lives in St. Louis) and I asked our congressmen, Reps. Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Rob Woodall (R-GA), to help us get answers regarding an institutional cover-up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that involves CDC Director Thomas Frieden MD MPH.

Our thoroughly-documented letter requested that Reps. Clay and Woodall ask Dr. Frieden to account for millions of tax dollars the agency awarded to the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF).

As Sidebar readers know, SALF was a politically-connected Chicago nonprofit that's been the subject of dozens of media exposes and is reportedly under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General for the "possible $9 million misappropriation" of federal and state tax dollars.

Our letter also asked why CDC executive Douglas R. Browne was permitted to moonlight as SALF's corporate treasurer while the agency was funneling millions to the group.


Here's the big question we asked Reps. Clay and Woodall:
Would you please ask Dr. Frieden to provide you with a thorough accounting of how the $3,335,578 awarded to SALF was spent? That should present no difficulty for him since SALF's corporate treasurer Douglas Browne, still a CDC employee, should be able to provide him with the records.
Click here to download a copy of our letter.



Friday, October 3, 2014

Why I'm not participating in Jason Schmidt's dubious documentary project about my father [Part IV]

On the left is Margaret Mattox's artwork, flipped horizontally; on the right is Dr. Frank Netter's 1979 illustration

In part I, I reported that I refused to participate in a shoestring budget documentary project about my father being made by freelance video editor Jason Schmidt because he wrote me that was willing to accept funding from my father, his "sympathetic associates," and from "deep-pocketed patrons/benefactors" I might steer to him.

In part II, I reported that my father's press agent, Melinda Zemper, wrote me that she issued a press release hyping the project and helped fund it via Kickstarter because she's personal friends with Schmidt whom she called "an ethical, competent journalist."

In part III, I reported about "original retro-style artwork" by South Carolina artist Margaret Mattox offered as a premium to Kickstarter donors. Mattox's drawing of a man performing the Heimlich maneuver bears a striking resemblance to a 1979 work by the renowned medical illustrator, Frank Netter MD. (Original? Not so much. Retro? Definitely.)

The Kickstarter campaign raised about $32,000 in July.

It also raised questions about the responsibility of Kickstarter recipients to those who fund their projects.

The fund raising pitch stresses that the filmmakers "believe in this story."

That claim is undermined by this example that suggests Schmidt may not even have a grasp of the basic material.


In fact, the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross incorporated the Heimlich into their choking rescue guidelines in 1976, only two years after my father introduced the treatment.

By any measure that's a remarkably rapid acceptance for any new medical treatment.

It's also a milestone that anyone who had done even cursory research into the history of the Heimlich maneuver would know.

Via my father's recent memoir:
(In 1976, the Red Cross) changed its policies, advocating that people use both back slaps and what it called “abdominal thrusts.” By “abdominal thrust,” the organization meant the Heimlich Maneuver.
In a recent e-mail, I asked Schmidt which of "the biggest organizations in the medical establishment" his fund raising pitch was referring to.

Here's his non-answer:
I'd be happy to look over any information you have regarding that subject.
In other words, Schmidt learns from yours truly that his project may have used a false claim to raise funds. In response, he provides no information to back up his project's claim. Instead, this so-called "ethical, competent journalist" asks me to send him information.

If that's how much Schmidt "believes in this story," Melinda Zemper may want to ask her friend for a refund.

Further, the Kickstarter campaign offered this premium:


Call me a stickler-in-the-mud, but I have a problem with the film having a business relationship with my father.

But at the moment that's a secondary point.

My main point is that Schmidt apparently hasn't read my father's book. If he had, wouldn't he have known that the treatment was almost immediately accepted "by the biggest organizations in the medical establishment"?

Here's a fair and perhaps loaded question.

After a Kickstarter campaign ends, if the recipients learn that the campaign included false information, should they inform donors?

The above example may be a case in point.

The following definitely is.

Here's a screen shot of information prominently posted near the top of the Kickstarter page.


As Sidebar readers know, via Seth Abramovitch's scorching August 14 Hollywood Reporter report, How Dr. Heimlich Maneuvered Hollywood Into Backing His Dangerous AIDS "Cure," actress Halle Berry has denied the claim.

Are the "collection of talented colleagues and friends" and family members making the film (see below) aware of the Hollywood Reporter article?

If they read their own Facebook page, they are.

If they've read the THR story -- and I think's safe to assume Schmidt did -- then they're aware that the Halle Berry claim on their Kickstarter page is apparently a lie.

So should their Kickstarter page be corrected?

And should donors be made aware of the false claims? Or is Kickstarter a "caveat emptor" operation?

I'll start asking questions and will report the results.

Jason Schmidt (large photo), his wife Ellen Kitchen Schmidt (top right) and presumably Morry Galonoy, Charlotte Fuller, Helen Russell, April Thibeault. Sam Rider, Dennis Yuen, Matt Israel, Shane Rettig, and Jason's brother Justin Schmidt. ("Presumably" because the photo didn't have a cut line, but the names are listed here.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why I'm not participating in Jason Schmidt's dubious documentary project about my father [Part III]

In part I, I reported that in April I was approached by freelance video editor Jason Schmidt who's trying to make a documentary about my father. I refused to participate when he wrote me that he was willing to accept funding from my father, his "sympathetic associates," and from any "deep-pocketed patrons/benefactors" I might steer his way.

In part II, I reported that my father's press agent Melinda Zemper wrote me that she issued a press release hyping the project and helped fund it because she's personal friends with Schmidt, and that my sister Janet Heimlich, one of my father's most ardent defenders, also donated funding.

Let's move on to Schmidt's recent Kickstarter campaign which raised about $32,000 (including the donations from Zemper and my sister).

Potential donors were offered various premiums including:





Click here for the website bio of artist Margaret Mattox of Johns Island, South Carolina.

Let's take a closer look at her artwork and do a horizontal flip:


Here's artwork by renowned medical illustrator, the late Frank Netter MD:

source

That image and other fine illustrations by Dr. Netter were used in a 1979 pamphlet published by CIBA, the pharmaceutical giant, consisting of an article co-authored by my father and the late Milton H. Uhley MD (pronounced "yu-lee").


Dr. Uhley, a Beverly Hills "physician to the stars" (including Marilyn Monroe), was no stranger to big pharma.

A 20-page July 21, 1995 California Medical Board complaint against him (see below) included allegations of gross negligence for excessive narcotics prescribing (including 1890 Percocets for one patient), prescribing to addicts, repeated negligent acts, incompetence, and other charges.

He surrendered his California medical license on September 26th, 1996.

Uhley was one of at least three doctors with whom my father was associated who lost their licenses for excessive prescribing of narcotics.

Two of them did prison time.


One of them, the late Gerson Carr MD, had been a surgical resident under my father at Jewish Hospital in the early 1970s.

After Carr's parole from a New Mexico state prison in 1982 -- which my father told me he helped arrange -- my father hired Carr to be "Research Director" at the Heimlich Institute when the organization was located on the campus of Cincinnati's Xavier University.

Here's a good question for any serious filmmaker making a documentary about my father's career.

Why was Dr. Maneuver associating with so many narco docs?



Part IV: Other problems with the film's Kickstarter fund raising campaign

This item has been slightly revised/updated.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why I'm not participating in Jason Schmidt's dubious documentary project about my father [Part II]

Longtime Heimlich Institute publicist Melinda Zemper wrote me that she's personal friends with Jason Schmidt, who's making a documentary about my father -- she helped fund Schmidt's project and sent out a press release to help with his fundraising.
In my previous item, I explained my principal reason for refusing to be interviewed for The Maneuver: The Inside Story of Dr. Henry Heimlich. 

That's the title of a documentary about my father that freelance video editor Jason Schmidt is trying to get off the ground via Media Schmedia LLC, his New York City-based company.

When Schmidt first approached me in April, I bailed pronto after he e-mailed me that he had no problem accepting funding from my father or his "sympathetic associates." He even invited me to steer donors to him:
I imagine you're dancing around the question of whether or not this project is funded by your father or sympathetic associates? If that's the case, you can be assured that no such money has been offered or accepted. Perhaps that will change...and likewise, if you know of any deep-pocketed patrons/benefactors interested in supporting a great project, I'm all ears.
Clearly he's not bothered with pesky concerns like maintaining the appearance of objectivity. 

The part he wrote about "no such money has been offered or accepted. Perhaps that will change"?

In fact, that changed just a few months later, via the project's Kickstarter campaign, which raised about $32,000.

Via Kickstarter, here's one of the backers:


As Sidebar readers know, Melinda Zemper is longtime press agent for my father's nonprofit Heimlich Institute.

Here's a screen shot from Documentary film on Dr. Henry Heimlich in works, Zemper's June 4, 2014 press release hyping the project:


In other words, the Heimlich Institute's press agent funded Schmidt's project via Kickstarter and issued a press release hyping the project in which she steered potential donors to the project.

On June 28, I sent Zemper these questions:
1) I presume you sent out the press release on behalf of your clients, the Heimlich Institute and Deaconess Associations, and that Media Schmedia is not your client, correct?

2) How much money did you contribute via Kickstarter?

3) Do you have any other financial interest in the film?

4) Is your funding of the film your own money or are you being reimbursed by your clients?
Here's her complete reply, dated June 30.
Hello Mr. Heimlich,

You are making wrong assumptions in your email below.

1) I submitted a press release supporting MediaSchmedia [sic] based on a personal friendship I have with Jason Schmidt, not on behalf of any client.

2) How much money I contribute to a Kickstarter campaign is none of your business and not of interest to media you copied on this email. It was a personal donation that is rather small in comparison to his actual needs, but the donation was intended to encourage Schmidt’s first foray into creating independent films. Jason Schmidt is an ethical, competent journalist who has won a variety of awards for his film work. Please view his website: www.jasonschmidt.com

3) No, I do not.

4) The donation is personal; there are no clients involved in my donation to Schmidt’s documentary film on Dr. Heimlich. The film is an independent journalistic endeavor and not underwritten by the Heimlichs. That is why Schmidt implemented a Kickstarter campaign. Oak Tree Communications helped Dr. Heimlich obtain media coverage for his memoir. That project has since been completed and I am not working with Dr. Heimlich at this time.

Melinda Zemper
Oak Tree Communications
Some things I'd like to know.

Does "an ethical, competent journalist" making an ostensibly objective documentary about Henry Heimlich accept funding from Henry Heimlich's publicist?

Does "an ethical, competent journalist" allow Henry Heimlich's publicist to issue a press release hyping the film and encouraging donations?

Wouldn't "an ethical, competent journalist" be aware that these conflicts make him appear to be compromised?

And exactly how did Schmidt and Zemper get to be pals? 

Here's another of my father's "sympathetic associates" from whom Schmidt accepted funding via Kickstarter:


My sister Janet has been one of my father's most ardent defenders in the media, she edited his recently-published memoir, and she appears in this fund raising trailer for Schmidt's documentary. 



Part III: A Problematic "Heimlich Artwork" Kickstarter Premium and My Father's Relationships with Narco Docs

Part IV: Other problems with the film's Kickstarter fund raising campaign

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why I'm not participating in Jason Schmidt's dubious documentary project about my father [Part I]

Jason Schmidt and Cincinnati Red's player Todd Frazier, who made headlines a couple years ago for performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking man in a Pittsburgh restaurant (source)

I've always thought my father's bizarre career along with his twisted personal life would make a terrific documentary.

Perhaps not surprisingly, as his (very) unauthorized amateur biographer and most outspoken critic, I've been approached over the years by a handful of filmmakers who had the same idea.

One recent contender is Jason Schmidt, who, per his website, "is a veteran freelance video editor based in New York City."

Since last year, he's been trying to get a project off the ground called The Maneuver: The Inside Story of Dr. Henry Heimlich as his directorial debut.

This past April he contacted me and invited me to be interviewed.

He didn't impress me in the least, so I politely declined.

I also requested that if anyone asked if I was participating in his project, that they be informed that I wasn't.

Since then, a few articles and press releases have appeared about his project and in July a Kickstarter campaign raised close to $32,000 in funding.

Friends have asked why I gave him a thumbs-down, plus I've got some editorial and fund raising concerns about the project, hence this item.

I prefer to keep my posts short, so here's Part I.

Photo by Wesley Mann for The Hollywood Reporter

In initial e-mails, Schmidt informed me he'd already conducted a round of interviews in Cincinnati, including a lengthy interview with my then 93-year-old father at the retirement community where he's lived in recent years.

Putting aside whatever you think of our research, my wife and I probably know more about Henry Heimlich than anyone except Henry Heimlich.

And over the past decade we've accumulated thousands of important documents, some of which were the basis for the scores of print and broadcast reports since 2003 based on our research that helped expose my father as a dangerous charlatan and world-class scammer.

Seth Abramovitch (source)

Here's the most recent, the jaw-dropping August 14 Hollywood Reporter expose by reporter Seth Abramovitch, How Dr. Heimlich Maneuvered Hollywood Into Backing His Dangerous AIDS "Cure," based on documents I shared with the magazine.

My point?

Love me or not, I've got the goods.

Therefore, what kind of documentary maker would conduct an in-depth interview with my father without first trying to pick my brain for possible questions to ask Dr. Maneuver?

But here's where the Schmidt really hit the fan.

In an initial e-mail, I asked him about his funding source for the round of Cincinnati interviews he'd completed.

His reply?
I imagine you're dancing around the question of whether or not this project is funded by your father or sympathetic associates? If that's the case, you can be assured that no such money has been offered or accepted. Perhaps that will change...and likewise, if you know of any deep-pocketed patrons/benefactors interested in supporting a great project, I'm all ears.
Hear that fluttering of wings?

Sounds to me like credibility flying out the window.

First, I'd never participate in a project with anyone willing to accept funds from my father or his associates or from me or anyone I might steer to him.

Second, I'd never participate in a project with anyone so indiscreet and lacking in self-awareness that they'd put such an abysmal admission in writing.

Speaking of abysmal, check out the film's trailer:



Part II: My father's press agent helped fund Jason Schmidt's documentary -- and she says she's personal friends with Schmidt

Part III: A Problematic "Heimlich Artwork" Kickstarter Premium and My Father's Relationships with Narco Docs


Part IV: Other problems with the film's Kickstarter fund raising campaign

Monday, September 8, 2014

Liar's Dice, Part II: Boise TV contradicts claims by mayor and fire chief re: "Heimlich drowning" -- plus investigations updates

A Boise TV station has confirmed that firefighter Brent Matthews said he performed the Heimlich maneuver on a near-drowning victim who died a few days later.

It started with this clip from a June 24, 2014 KTVB-TV story by Scott Evans about a dramatic drowning rescue of Martinez, a 56-year-old homeless man, by Boise firefighter Brent Matthews and Boise Police Officer Joe Rivas.



That sounds like a straightforward admission to me, plus in a June 25 e-mail to me, Evans confirmed to me that Mr. Matthews told him he'd performed the Heimlich maneuver on Mr. Martinez.

The first media report about my concerns (which have since been widely-reported) -- a July 16 Boise Weekly story by Harrison Berry -- reported it that way, but later backed off a notch:


Meanwhile, in response to my July 2 letter of concern to Boise Mayor David Bieter, here's how public officials played it.

Via Mayor Bieter's July 18 reply to me:
The Boise Fire Department spoke with the firefighter involved in the rescue of Mr. Martinez, reviewed the written report and checked with others, including supervisors who were on the scene, and has confirmed that the Heimlich maneuver was not performed on the drowning victim.
Via a July 22 e-mail to me from Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg:
I want to let you know that no one performed the Heimlich maneuver on the deceased.
Via a July 23 e-mail to me from Fire Chief Doan in which he refused to further discuss the matter:
(The) Heimlich maneuver was not performed on this rescue...The Boise Fire Department does not, and has never, instructed our dive team, EMT’s or Paramedics to perform theHeimlich Maneuver on drowning vicms, nor do we intend to in the future.
Via the July 16 Boise Weekly:
"It turns out that, sort of contrary to what KTVB reported, and it just may have been a simple misunderstanding, but it appears that the firefighter who pulled Mr. Martinez from the canal did, in fact, not use the Heimlich," said Boise Fire Department Communications Director Lynn Hightower.
Via the July 18 Idaho Statesman:
Did (Brent) Matthews actually use the Heimlich? The Boise Fire Department says no. Spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said other emergency response officials at the scene corroborated Matthews' report, which said he used CPR to bring Martinez back.
But KTVB is standing by their version.

On August 15, the station aired a follow-up report in which reporter Carolyn Holly unequivocally stated:
The firefighter, Brent Matthews, told KTVB he had performed the Heimlich maneuver during the rescue.
Here's the clip:



Via the same story:
The City of Boise's ethics commission determined Thursday it would not look into an alleged cover-up in an investigation involving a firefighter's treatment of a drowning victim...Now, other city leaders will determine if further investigation should be done.
More details from an August 15 e-mail I received from Assistant City Attorney Elizabeth Koeckeritz on behalf of the Ethics Commission:
(The) Ethics Commission determined that your allegations fell outside of their jurisdiction...However, Boise City takes these allegations seriously and has asked the Fire Medical Director and Human Resources to perform an independent investigation of these allegations.
A few days ago I shared these concerns in letters to the city's investigators and to the Idaho Attorney General's Criminal Law Division. (Page down to view; click here to download a pdf of both letters.)

1) An inaccurate report of the near-drowning incident may have been filed and false information may have been circulated by public employees.

2) Public employees conducted an inadequate investigation.

3) Mayor Bieter, Coroner Sonnenberg, and Chief Doan may have provided me with false information.

4) Ms. Hightower may have provided false information to the press.




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My request to the NJ Attorney General's Consumer Affairs Division to investigate problematic training of lifeguards at Jersey Shore water parks

Steve C. Lee (photo from his online bio)

From a letter I sent yesterday -- click here to download a copy:

Steve C. Lee
Acting Director
N.J. Division of Consumer Affairs
New Jersey Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 45025
Newark, NJ 07101

Dear Mr. Lee:

Based on media reports, at least four New Jersey water parks appear to be putting the public at risk by training their lifeguards to perform an unapproved, experimental, thoroughly-discredited drowning rescue treatment.

This is to request that your agency review the following information, interview the water park employees responsible for overseeing their companies' lifeguard training, and provide me with a determination of your findings.