Docs, Chiropractors Fight Over Vaccinations

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – As a controversial vaccination law prepares to clear its last hurdle in the California state Assembly, a major supporter of the bill says opponents encouraged the stalking and threatening of its employees and lobbyists.
     The California Medical Association sent a cease-and-desist letter to the California Chiropractic Association last week, accusing its president, Brian Stenzler, of telling opponents of Senate Bill 277 to follow a CMA employee and a lobbyist “all day long, to a T” in a video that was posted on YouTube.
     Tensions surrounding SB 277, which would remove personal-belief exemptions and mandate vaccinations for most California school-children, have peaked in recent weeks with death threats made against and heightened security provided for the bill’s authors during hearings at the statehouse.
     Thousands of opponents of the bill have packed the last five hearings, and the CMA says Stenzler helped create a dangerous atmosphere for its employees in Sacramento.
     “The video just released, considered against the backdrop of personal attacks, harassment, and threatened violence that your organization has created around SB 277 not only crosses the line of ethics and professionalism, but sinks into the realm of criminal conduct,” CMA chief executive officer Dustin Corcoran wrote in the cease-and-desist letter.
     Corcoran said Stenzler’s statements have led the CMA to file a police report to protect its employees and lobbyists.
     The target of recent social-media threats and stalking has been lobbyist Jodi Hicks, who helped SB 277 progress through the Senate. Photos of Hicks walking through the Capitol hallways were tweeted, while another person called her a “Pharma mouth piece!” Another posted a link to a campaign ad for SB 277 co-author Sen. Richard Pan, in which Hicks’ daughter gives Pan a high-five. Pan was Hicks’ daughter’s pediatrician.
     Hicks worked as the CMA’s vice president of government relations and now lobbies for Dimare, Brown, Hicks & Kessler in Sacramento. While the CMA is revealed as a client of the firm on its website, there are no pharmaceutical companies listed.
     Stenzler has been a staple at Senate committee hearings and has testified against SB 277 on the CCA’s behalf on various occasions, calling vaccines unsafe and criticizing the 10 vaccinations required under the bill.
     In a response to the cease-and-desist letter, Stenzler said the CMA took his words out of context and called the criminal accusations defamatory.
     “With all due respect, this accusation is absurd and nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to undermine CCA’s democratic right to participate in the legislative process, a conclusion made all the more obvious by the fact that your letter was promptly leaked to the media,” Stenzler wrote in the response letter.
     Stenzler contends the CCA has denounced inappropriate behavior by SB 277 opponents and sent out a press release on April 29 condemning personal attacks against the bill’s supporters and authors.
     He called the cease-and-desist letter a “bullying tactic” and said the CCA will continue to oppose the vaccination bill.
     “Your attempt to disparage CCA and defame me in order to create a short-term political advantage on a single piece of legislation is, to say the least, disappointing and beneath the CMA,” Stenzler wrote.     
     After a process of four committee hearings and passage by the Senate this past week, SB 277 awaits a committee hearing in the Assembly. The bill has garnered the support of several organizations besides the CMA, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the California State PTA.
     Various doctors and parents-rights groups have joined the CCA in testifying against the bill, and many have said they will take their children out of public schools if the bill is enacted.
     “This is a bad bill, it takes choice away from our parents and it puts it in the government and a pharmaceutical company that we don’t have any control over,” Stenzler testified at a committee hearing in April.
     SB 277 opponents have rallied against the bill’s authors, Pan and Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, accusing them of peddling drug companies’ vaccinations at the cost of their freedom.
     Ironically, campaign donation records from 2014 show that Stenzler and the CCA donated nearly $10,000 to Pan’s successful run for state Senate last November.

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