I keep thinking that I am done writing about the WPI and will get back to writing about my real life, but the noise from Reno continues to be deafening. Like everyone else, I was waiting to see what happens with the FBI investigation, when I got an email from Annette Whittemore. Publishing personal email is distasteful, but after serious consideration, I’ve decided that said email was written by a CEO of a non-profit, still begging my readers for donations. Their final communication, included below, is from Carli West Kinne, Annette Whittemore’s niece, who works for the WPI as an attorney. This blog is my answer.
My response to Mrs. Whittemore and Ms. West Kinne is that everything I’ve said in my blogs is my opinion, based on my own first hand experience, and true, to the best of my knowledge. Much of it is documented in the public domain. I would be happy to share it all, except that full disclosure would require violations of confidences from sick patients. I have asked only questions that a legitimate nonprofit should be ready and able to answer.
In addition, there is no malice in my blogging, malice being a legal term. I believe in my heart that it is in the best interest of my readers to hear what I have to say. I am aware that the NIH is answering patient inquiries that the WPI is innocent until they send in evidence of their own guilt:). In the meantime, Dr. Mikovits is guilty until proven innocent, has no lab or financial cushion. In fact, she doesn’t even have health insurance and can’t qualify for unemployment because she was fired, even though it was arguably without cause. The “Wings of Hope” flew away with my hope when they took away Dr. Mikovits’ access to her lab.
I would like to make it perfectly clear, that I will continue to publish my opinions here, irrespective of any intimidation. If sued or subpoenaed I will write about that too. It is best to stand up to bullies. It is also best to speak out about a wrong that you see, even if your toes are right up to the edge of the quicksand. Especially if your reason for not speaking out is because of possible retaliation.
The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States protects my right to speak freely. I am entitled to discuss and invite discourse on topics of any concern to me and to my readers. I will not apologize and I will not be silenced. If contacted again, my next call will be to the ACLU.
What I didn’t say in my response to Mrs. Whittemore, included below, was how much I would have loved to be able to write nice things. Even after I was fired, I held out hope that would be the case. I held that hope longer than I should have. The enormity of the lost chance is hard to take in. Instead of anything hopeful or uplifting, here is my latest “conversation” with the WPI, now complete with a lawyer letter.
The first email from Annette Whittemore, dated February 20.
Subject: Civil discourse
Jamie and Heidi,
I have seen what you have written about me. It is very painful and ugly. Obviously you think it is ok to libel me and try to hurt my reputation and that of this institute. You should know that there are innocent people who come to work every day to try to help this institute and help patients like you. They are hurt by your words. Our researchers work six and seven days a week for you. They are hurting because of you. You should know what your actions are doing to innocent people, like my family members, all because you have decided you know something about me or think that I have done something wrong. I would like to know what you think I’ve done or said so that we can clear the air once and for all.
I don’t believe in writing mean and ugly things about other people. I would like to settle this in a civil manner. We can start wherever you’d like. If I can’t answer your concern, I can find someone in our organization who can. If you’d prefer we can email individually. Please let me know.
Here is my response of February 22.
If you want to work things out with me, there are a few things that need to happen first. Otherwise I will continue to believe that the WPI is a black hole that you use for your own purposes, to benefit your family and friends, without regard for the patients to whom the institute professes to be dedicated.
1. Drop both the criminal and civil suits against Judy. Give her a reasonable severance package so she can get back on her feet. Apologize for your hideous public display of legal bullying.
2. Step down as CEO in favor of someone competent, someone with a prayer of retaining real talent.
3. Appoint a real Board of Directors, who are not your friends, but rather people with something to contribute other than pleasing you.
4. Account for the money and return what wasn’t used for research. I assume that the actual sum is likely larger than what I know about, which is at least $8 million: grant money already received, fundraisers, donations, contest money, UNR money? ear-marked for SPECT scanner and other medical equipment (I heard the figure $5 million on more than one occasion, a million for the scanner), $150K/month for almost a year from a private investor (yes, I do remember that you told me who it was, as well as the terms and, no, I didn’t name them publicly, though I don’t know why I am being kind to you). For all that money, I see one paper about cytokines that still stands, and Judy wrote it.
5. Return the small donations, from people who could ill afford them, that were earmarked for research or specific things for which they were not used.
Your newsletter was disgusting. It is time for you to justify your existence with more than propaganda. Why should anyone trust you? It is not possible to accomplish anything in the field without a reputation for integrity. If you cannot reclaim yours, it is better for the patient community if the WPI closes its doors. Why throw good money after bad?
P.S. Thank you for firing me.
I received this the day before yesterday, with an attachment, the letter from Carli Kinne.
Subject: harmful and damaging misinformation
You are completely misinformed and your continued online communications full of false and misleading information are damaging to my reputation and to that of this non-profit institute. Please stop now and apologize for the personal harm that you have caused me and this institute.
February, 24, 2011
Dear Deck-off Jones,
It has come to my attention that you are sharing incorrect information on your blog and encouraging others to write the National Institutes of Health (NIH) regarding Whittemore Peterson Institute’s NIH grant. While your most recent blog is full of erroneous and harmful information, I am only interested in correcting the record related to WPI’s grants. WPI is in full compliance with the NIH Grants Policy Statement, including but not limited to, all cost principles and reporting requirements. As I am sure you are aware, claims against Annette Whittemore and/or WPI in a civil complaint are mere allegations that must be proven in court. There is no “evidence in the public domain that the CEO of the WPI is a liar and fraud,” as stated in your blog. There is also no evidence that WPI has misused grant funds, which you continue to allege in your blogs. Furthermore, the NIH grant will continue under the guidance of a qualified principal investigator (PI). There was no “pull involved” in order to change the PI, and to guess at such action taking place in your blog is damaging to all parties involved. In addition, Dr. Lombardi does not have a financial conflict of interest as you continue to allege in connection with his relationship with VIP Dx, a company that is no longer in business. As for the Department of Defense (DOD) grant, the DOD was pleased to approve Dr. Lombardi as the PI. Please stop sharing false information and discontinue encouraging others to use this false information in correspondence to the NIH or any other granting agency such as the DOD. These actions interfere with WPI’s business and harm WPI’s reputation.
Vice President and Legal Counsel
Whittemore Peterson Institute
To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. ~Frederick Douglass
IMEA petition at Change.org: INVESTIGATE POSSIBLE WPI/UNR MISUSE OF TAXPAYER FUNDS