In amazing abuse of America’s nonprofit laws, there’s a “charity” called “America’s Frontline Doctors” that consists of quacks, a small number of physicians and health care workers who are represent the very worst in American medicine. They spread false information about COVID, advocate for dangerous and discredited treatments, engage in fearmongering about vaccines, and attempt to influence state legislation on health care. Idaho’s Ryan Cole, an appalling disgrace to the medical profession, is a prominent member of AFLDS.
One of AFLDS founders and its former president is Dr. Simone Gold. She’s just out of prison, serving a 60 days sentence after copping a plea to participating in the failed January 6 coup.1 While she was in prison, her fellow quacks had a chance to look at the financial books and records of AFLDS. Even by corrupt nonprofit standards, it was appalling. Dr. Simone had helped herself to
- A $3.6 million home in Naples, Florida, purchased with AFLDS funds
- A residential lease on another Naples property, and a fellow self-proclaimed medical freedom activist and his wife lived “rent free.”
- A Mercedes Benz Sprinter van
- A Hyundai Genesis
- A GMC Denali for her personal use
- A personal security officer at $12,000 per month
- A housekeeper $5,600
- Personal items on AFLDS credit cards at a rate of nearly $50,000 per month.
Note this list is not exhaustive. None of these expenses appears to have been approved by the AFLDS’s board of directors.
When her fellow AFLDS directors discovered these thefts, it ousted her as Board Chair and CEO, hired a forensic accountant and hired a lawyer to recover the monies Dr. Gold had stolen. On her release from prison, Gold demanded her positions with AFLDS back, and, according to the board members, began threatening the Board, AFLDS’s outside counsel, and employees that she would interfere with AFLDS’s donors, to persuade them not to make donations to AFLDS if her demands were not met. And then she engineered a coup, seizing control of the employees and assets of AFLDS.
The dissenting directors responded by suing Dr. Gold. The complaint became public when it was shared on Twitter by Abby Mahler, a photographer and lupus and disability justice advocate who often talks about medical disinformation online.
Now ordinarily, WC would be content to let this cluster of quacks beat each other up and expend their foolish donors’ monies on lawyers indefinitely. But WC has too much respect for charitable organizations and their role in America to allow this to pass without comment. The allegations in the complaint are so outrageous, so completely beyond the pale that it should be the I.R.S. or the U.S. Department of Justice prosecuting these claims, not her fellow quacks. That may be the better question: why aren’t the feds already involved?
Dr. Gold, nominally an emergency room physician, in her participation in the failed January 6 coup, as she entered the Capitol Building, walked past a badly injured Capitol police officer. That’s a violation of her oath as a physician. She has spread lies about vaccines, promoted quack medicines, shamelessly self-dealt in violation of law and her fiduciary duties. Even among her fellow quacks at AFLDS, she stands out.
WC finds everything about AFLDS and its claims reprehensible. Those who donate money to the quackery are poster children for John Bridges’ aphorism: “A fool and his money are soon parted.”2 But Simone Gold is much worse: she’s a common thief whose conduct, if tolerated, threatens all nonprofits.
She needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And California nd Florida need to act on her license to practice medicine.
(WC, a graduate of the University of Oregon, acknowledges that “The Quack Attack” is a trademarked slogan of U of O’s sports. But the use of “quack” as a perjorative for bad medicine is much older.)
1 When Dr. Simone emerged from prison, she was greeted by U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert (R, Seriously Texas?) who gave her a ceremonial American flag. Gohmert’s office said he presented Gold with the flag “to celebrate her invaluable work and contributions to public health, medical freedom and our God-given constitutional rights.” And, presumably, the right to act as a domestic terrorist and commit felony thefts.
2 Dr. Bridges appears to have coined the phrase in his 1587 work, “Defence of the Government of the Church of England.” Dr. Bridges wrote, “If they pay a penie or two pence more for the reddinesse of them… let them looke to that, a foole and his money is soone parted.”