Want To Elect A GOP Congress? Join The American College of Emergency Physicians.
So here we are, just nine days away from the mid-terms, and our friend Nate Silver says that the Senate will stay red but the House is very much in play. In fact, he says that the blue team has better than an 80% chance of giving the Speaker’s gavel back to Nancy Pelosi on January 3, 2019.
On the other hand, maybe there are some of us out there who, liberal leanings notwithstanding, would prefer that Congress remain in the hands of the GOP. If we could just find some way to help the Grand Old Party keep its House majority while, at the same time, doing something positive and socially redeeming with the money we want to give away.
I’m being slightly tongue-in-cheek, but here’s something you can do. Go to the website of the American College of Emergency Physicians, register and join up. It will only cost you $150 a year, but you will be involved in all kinds of interesting events and activities, and get special information about such timely issues as disaster medicine, tactical medicine, democratic group practice — there’s all kinds of medical information to be had. And most of all, you can attend the annual meeting, there’s a wellness meeting being held in Ojai, CA on February 19–22.
My particular interest is gun violence, and emergency physicians no doubt treat more gun injuries than all the other medical specialties combined. So it’s heartening to read a commentary on the ACEP website by the emergency physician who was on duty at Danbury Hospital the night of Sandy Hook. Here’s what this ACEP member had to say:
As a result of my experiences of the Sandy Hook Tragedy, I have embraced the challenges of the gun violence epidemic, and have sought to effect change at local and national levels. In addition to co-founding the advocacy organization, United Physicians of Newtown, I testified before the Connecticut General Assembly and before the US Senate Judiciary Committee concerning the proposed 2013 Assault Weapons Ban.
Incidentally, along with this heart-warming personal testimonial about gun violence, the organization also has a Public Health and Injury Prevention Committee, whose guidelines call for developing “tangible ways members can decrease incidents of firearm violence in their communities.” You can also read some of what the editor refers to as the ‘many passionate letters’ about gun violence written by ACEP members each year.
Fine and well. This national medical organization is on the front lines of raising consciousness about gun violence and your membership dues aid in that noble and important fight. That being said, how come you can join ACEP and by dint of that decision, help Congress to remain red? I’ll tell you how. Because what you won’t find on the ACEP website is news about the other ACEP organization whose activities are also funded by the dues you will pay.
That latter organization happens to be ACEP’s political PAC, NEMPAC, which gives out the dough that is used by politicians of both political parties to advance the party’s goals. According to the NEMPAC website, they are giving out your money based on “ the candidate’s or member’s support of ACEP’s legislative priorities.” Want to know what this means in dollars and cents?
For the 2016 election cycle, Senate and House candidates received $1,132,400 from the ACEP PAC, of which — ready? — 71% of the total went to GOP members and candidates, the blue team received 29%. Now maybe there are a whole bunch of Republican politicians who are willing and anxious to help ACEP reduce gun violence, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. In 2017, a researcher at Emory Medical Center found that the monies given to Republicans went to members who voted against a bill to expand the information required to be sent to the FBI for conducting background checks, legislation that ACEP has actually gone on record to support.
This is the statement I really love from the NEMPAC Director Jeanne Slade when she was asked about the PAC donations to office-holders who voted against this ACEP-supported bill: “Nobody will be with us on everything.” Perfect, just perfect.
Meawhile, the MedPage article appeared a year ago, so it’s not as if the current attempt by ACEP to help GOP candidates remain in office is new news. What is new, and the reason I am writing this column, is the extent to which ACEP political donations are playing a serious role in the current efforts by the GOP to keep the House of Representatives colored red.
Right now, for the Democrats to capture the House they need to win all 192 races that are ‘solid’ for them, plus all 17 races that are ‘likely’ to go blue, plus all 7 races that are ‘leaning’ in that direction (I am using the data published by Nate Silver) plus 3 ‘toss-up’ contests. If the Democrats don’t sweep all of the contests which are considered solid, likely or leaning their way, the number of toss-up races they have to win goes up. In other words, the blue team needs to be competitive in every, single Republican district or the House will remain red.
Want a race that the blue team needs to win? Try the Michigan 7th CD. Michigan 7th , a largely rural area that goes west out of Ann Arbor, is currently represented by a GOP-er named Tim Walberg, who claims on his website that he is a ‘staunch defender of our right to keep and bear arms.’ Right now Nate Silver is predicting that Walberg will end up getting 50.2% of the vote. His opponent, Gretchen Driskell will lose with 49.8% of the vote. Walberg has gotten $7,500 from ACEP, Gretchen Driskell zilch. Walberg has also received $2,000 from that other health-minded PAC known as the National Rifle Association; you can imagine how much Driskell has received from the NRA. Not one dime. And if you doubt Walberg’s commitment to the 2nd Amendment, the picture on his website is, of course, the man himself clothed in an orange hunting vest with the trusty shotgun over his arm.
So far this year, members of ACEP have given roughly $1 million bucks to Senate and House races (in round numbers) of which the GOP has received $600 grand and the Democrats roughly half that much. The Republicans who have received thousands of dollars from our friends who dig bullets out of bodies in the emergency rooms, include stalwart NRA friends like Andy Barr (R-KY) whose response to Obama’s comments following Sandy Hook said this:
I care deeply about doing everything we can to prevent another tragedy like the one we witnessed in Newtown, Connecticut last month. However, I’m not convinced that President Obama’s proposals would either protect the American people from crime or safeguard the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens.
ACEP has given this absolute dope $10,000 for the current campaign. Right now his race is a toss-up. Barr has also received $7,500 from the NRA. Amy McGrath, the challenger, has made this a very competitive race by raising a total of more than $7.7 million bucks. Know how much of that money came from the APEC PAC? Not one, blue cent.
It’s still too early to tell which way the vote will come out on November 6th. But if the House remains red, or even if it goes blue, the emergency room physicians who belong to APEC need to get their sh*t together and stop pretending that their membership dues are being spent in a proper way. The idea that the national medical organization representing the people in the front lines of gun violence could allow their monies to be used in this cynical and abusive fashion is an insult to everyone who cares about deaths and injuries committed from the use of guns.
After the MedPage article appeared last year, I contacted a member of ACEP who also happens to serve on the Public Health and Injury Prevention Committee and asked her whether she knew about this egregious use of her membership funds. When I expressed shock after she admitted that NEMPAC’s funding strategy was common knowledge, she had the absolute audacity and arrogance to tell me that “change takes time.”
It doesn’t take that much time. In fact, it doesn’t take any time at all. If you’re a member of ACEP, just pick up your telephone, call the membership office at (800) 798–1822, ext. 5 and resign. Or you can do it by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can stay with the organization, send them another check when the date for membership renewal rolls around because, after all, change takes time.