I appreciate the work you do but I would like some clarification on recent events.
A gentleman came forward from the CDC to provide information about what he felt were inappropriately withheld results on an old autism study. This gentleman guided someone outside the CDC to reproduce the result. These results were published and with that publication a public relations campaign was started. This is where your board member, David Lewis, comes into the story. Mr. Lewis can be seen in the video produced. That video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGOtDVilkUc
The original video was produced with the whistleblower’s name censored and his voice modified. However, his gender was given, making it rather simple work for the CDC and everyone else to work out who this was (only one male was an author on the paper in question). Within 3 days of the release of the video, the online version was replaced with the uncensored version you see now–the version with “whistleblower revealed” as a title.
Since that time the whistleblower has released a statement including noting
1) he never consented to having his phone calls taped
2) he never consented to having his identity released
3) it appears, thus, that the video was not shown to the whistleblower, so he could not have approved of the rather ugly race-baiting angle it took.
Here are some other problematic details in these events.
1) Mr. Lewis is in the employ of the organization which did this study, Focus Autism. Both Mr. Lewis himself and his charity/church have been paid according to public tax forms from Focus Autism.
2) Mr. Lewis does not make this conflict of interest known in the video.
3) Mr. Lewis has a history of working with the director of the video, Andrew Wakefield. This includes soliciting donations through Mr. Lewis’ church with the purpose of using those funds to support Mr. Wakefield.
4) Mr. Wakefield has major conflicts of interest in this video as he is trying to rebuild the reputation he damaged with his unethical actions (as deemed by the U.K.’s General Medical Council).
5) These COI’s are not disclosed in the video, although most in the autism community are well aware of Mr. Wakefield’s.
6) The video takes a very ugly race-baiting approach. It takes what the whistleblower suggests is a scientific dispute and frames it as CDC officials partaking in a new “Tuskegee” experiment an compares the CDC officials unfavorably to Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. This includes civil rights pioneer Marshalyn Yeagan-Allsopp.
Mr. Lewis has not issued a statement that I can find distancing himself from the actions of his team: the breach of confidentiality of the whistleblower nor the cynical use of the whistleblower for political and public relations gain by Mr. Wakefield. I can not see how the treatment of this whistleblower by Mr. Lewis’ team can be construed as appropriate. In the video we can see Mr. Lewis making use of the opportunity for product placement of his book, “Science for Sale”. Given Mr. Lewis’ tacit approval of this video, again one put together for his own benefactor Focus Autism, I see his actions as “opinion for sale”.
I write for a website called LeftBrainRightBrain.co.uk. You will see I have been highly critical of the actions of the team that outed this whistleblower.
Could I ask for a statement from your organization? Do you believe these actions to be within the bounds of appropriate behavior for one working with a whistleblower? If so, could you elaborate, because recording a whistleblower without his permission, outing a whistleblower, and using the whistleblower for such an ugly public relations campaign without his approval seem far outside the bounds to me.
I look forward to your reply,