The Ties that Bind

TMR BookcoverKatie Couric, a somewhat respected journalist, recently did a show about the dangers of human papillomavirus (“HPV”) vaccines.  I’m not a big fan of vaccines, and I know how anything that portrays today’s immunization program in a bad light is vehemently attacked by members of the pharmaceutical industry and their paid shills.  To see one of America’s leading news personalities actually tell the truth was refreshing.   It piqued my interest so much that I actually watched it.  The stories that the women on Couric’s show told were chilling. Much to my surprise <insert sarcasm here>, the pharmaceutical industry went for Couric’s throat after the program aired. After all, vaccines are a multi‐billion dollar industry with a lot to lose.  And we know how they hate to lose money.  Instead of actually investigating or looking into parents’ claims, they reacted like a pack of feral coyotes presented with a dead Deer.  (No sarcasm or anything on the choice of word “deer.” I’m sure some of you will understand that one.)  Couric’s Facebook page was littered with posts from people who advocate compliance with the current vaccine schedule who claimed to have absolutely no ties to, or payments from, the pharmaceutical industry.  Included among them were Dorit Reiss and several other people from the organization Voices for Vaccines.

Of recent interest on ageofautism.com (“Age of Autism” or “AofA”),  Dorit Reiss spends an unbelievable amount of time posting on every story on the internet dealing with vaccines trying to assure John and Jane Q. Public that there is nothing to see here, and please ignore the man behind the curtain.  I mean, this is a woman who has a pretty substantial education and job.  She did her undergrad research at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and received her Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy program at U. C. Berkley.  Good schools, no doubt, and magna cum laude at that.  Impressive.   She is currently employed as a Professor of Law at the University of California at Hastings.  She must be one hell of a busy woman, right? The more posts I saw of hers on Katie Couric’s Facebook page, the more I started to raise an eyebrow.  Just who is this woman who, on the surface, appears to be a busy professional?  She is listed as teaching nine classes at the U. C. Hastings Law School, so why and how is she posting on every vaccine story on the internet, sometimes hundreds of times? (I’m NOT being facetious either!)  I’m not the only person to wonder.  Christina Waldman discussed Ms. Reiss’s University’s odd demi-financial relationship with Kaiser Permanente in “Not Paid to Post?” Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, UC Hastings College of Law and Kaiser Permanente on Age of Autism.

As Waldman points out, Reiss’s employer recently collaborated in a joint endeavor of Kaiser Permanente, U. C.  San Francisco and U. C. Hastings College of Law, which was funded by The National Human Genome Research Institute – a GOVERNMENT ORGANZATION – which provided $778,000.  The new endeavor benefits Reiss’s employer as it provides a new student study center. The headline of the University of California Press Release says it all: “New Center Explores Ethical, Legal, Social Implications of Genomics in Health Care: Center is Multidisciplinary Effort of UCSF, Kaiser Permanente, U.C. Hastings College of Law” – which is in line with the classes Ms. Reiss teaches.  I’d say that’s benefiting from a government grant, indirectly if not directly ‐‐ it’s hard to say without taking a look at U. C. Hastings’ payroll for Ms. Reiss.

In addition, Ms. Reiss is “is quickly becoming the nation’s foremost legal expert about the potential for tort liability for parents who choose not to vaccinate their children,” according to the U. C. Hastings website.  A lawyer who is becoming the nation’s “foremost legal expert” on a subject?  It’s hard to imagine someone having a greater economic interest in the public image of the vaccine program, unless it is the vaccine manufacturers themselves.

Damn, that man behind the curtain is getting really annoying. I mean, Dorothy sees him pulling all the strings, you know?

Reiss is on the “Parent Advisory Board” for Voices for Vaccines  (“VFV”) which states on its website “Independence.  To allay concerns about conflicts of interest, we will accept no funding from companies that manufacture or distribute vaccines, nor from any government.”  It may be strictly true that the organization does not take money from vaccine manufacturers or governments, but does that mean the organization is independent?   I found otherwise.  Let’s see, how to explain?  Hrm.  Think classic Mafia money-laundering  operation and you will have the picture:  a many-layered network of intertwined organizations seemingly designed to deceive and obfuscate where the money is coming from.  They are braided into parent organizations with multiple subsidiaries and multiple methods of cloaking sources of revenue.

Recently, there have been several articles on AofA about these “pharma shills” and their nefarious posting activities.  I would urge you to read The Lady Doth Protest Too Much: Voices for Vaccine (sic) is a Top‐down Front Operation Launched by a CDC Partner in 2008, by John Stone.  Mr. Stone unearthed quite a few disturbing relationships between the CDC, Emory University, VFV, The Task Force for Child Survival and Development (renamed The Task Force for Global Health, Inc. in 2009), the Center for Vaccine Equity and Global Health Solutions <Not so> Ironically, Mr. Stone also found that VFV, “is a subdivision of The Task Force for Global Health’s ‘Immunizations and Vaccines: Center for Vaccine Equity,’ with Dr. Alan R. Hinman (a CDC veteran) the director of both the wider operation and Voices for Vaccines . . . with ‘Task Force for Vaccine Equity’ being funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Merck and Novartis.”   Hrm.  Thank you for finding that, Mr. Stone.

So let’s recap here, because it gets a little bit confusing:  VFV, a nonprofit organization, is apparently a subsidiary of an organization called “The Task Force for Global Health, Inc.” (“TFGH”), which is itself a subsidiary of Global Health Solutions (“GHS”).  The Director of VFV is Dr. Alan Hinman, a man with strong CDC ties.

So what exactly does it mean to be a “subsidiary” of a parent nonprofit?  According to Thompson & Thompson:

At all times, provided that appropriate bylaw provisions are adopted and maintained, the parent has the legal authority to hold the subsidiary accountable to meet “bottom line” financial objectives, to pursue acceptable policy mandates, to fulfill its charitable mission (if a nonprofit subsidiary) and to otherwise conduct its affairs in a manner pleasing to the parent (emphasis mine).

And according to nonprofitlawblog.com:

One benefit for the parent of a parent-subsidiary structure is the element of control. . .  Therefore, the parent is able to exercise substantial control over the subsidiary by controlling who is on the board and how the organization is to be governed.

This makes it clear that far from being a “grassroots” organization, led by concerned parents, as VFV would have you believe, it is actually controlled by TFGH, an organization with very strong vaccine industry ties.

If you look up “The Center for Vaccine Equity” (which is funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Merck and Novartis, remember?), you are redirected to TFGH, which has the same address as GHS, which has the same address as VFV:  325 Swanton Way, Decatur, GA 30030.   Hrm.

Center for Vaccine Equity