A few years back Andrew Wakefield decided to sue the BMJ and Brian Deer. This followed a series of articles and public statements that Mr. Wakefield’s work was an “elaborate fraud” and Mr. Wakefield himself was a fraud. Lawsuits involve attorneys and attorneys cost money, so a few efforts arose to help Mr. Wakefield pay for these costs. I believe the first was the “Dr. Wakefield Justice Fund”. This didn’t come across as a major effort, the twitter account made three tweets, the website appears to be down (here’s an archived version), and it doesn’t appear to have made charity status. Another effort that came out was the Academic Integrity fund. Again, the website seems to be down, but again there’s the archive. In many ways it’s too bad that site didn’t continue as it because a place for Mr. Wakefield to place essays. And his writing, while tedious, produced interesting insights into his thoughts. For example:
Obama must meet the autism tragedy head on and deal with the proximate cause of the epidemic – unsafe and untested vaccination practices.
This from a man whose supporters claim never says that vaccines cause autism.
And we can also read the approach that would later prove fatal for Alex Spourdalakis: autism must be considered a medical, especially gastrointestinal, condition and that psychiatric medications to be avoided and that are behind mass murderers.
Tragically, predictably, there will be more events like at Sandy Hook Elementary. The vast number of individuals with developmental disorders presages such events. This is not because of their diagnosis, per se, but rather I would suggest, because they may be at increased risk for adverse reactions (due to pre-existing conditions) and are being inappropriately medicated with drugs for which violence is a recognized adverse reaction. These drugs are being prescribed by a “mainstream”
Not all the fundraising efforts failed. We also saw the rise of a group calling itself the “Defending Academic Integrity and Research” or D.A.I.R. Foundation. D.A.I.R. states under “what we do”:
Justice is accessible only to those who can afford it. D.A.I.R. Foundation provides legal aid, coordinated public relations support, and educational materials that support the work of our sponsored applicants.
Reading their site, one applies for support and D.A.I.R. provides financial support, PR and other help.
D.A.I.R. Foundation has an open request for proposals from researchers, physicians, scientists, and academic policy drivers who have come under attack and are interested in applying for legal aid. Please Contact Us and note in the subject line “Applicant Inquiry”. Applicants follow an approval review process. Applicants who are accepted will be expected to agree to terms and conditions of the legal aid process to include partnership in strategy that assures success and can be leveraged in future cases, proceeds to D.A.I.R. Foundation following legal compensation, and development of educational and public relations materials. We also assist in reputation management
I emailed them asking for a copy of their “terms and conditions” but they did not reply. I find it interesting that people are expected to work with D.A.I.R in developing educational an public relations materials, and apparently provide a share of the proceeds of any legal settlements they achieve.
They hold fundraisers, and it appears that Andrew Wakefield is a featured speaker at these events. The event linked on their website was not inexpensive, but also appears to have left a large number of seats unsold. (click to enlarge)
Of course this leaves us wondering, how much money did D.A.I.R. bring in and how did they use it? Well, here’s the D.A.I.R. Foundation 2013 form 990.
From this we learn that they brought in $104,488. Of that $20,859 was spent on a grant (I assume to Andrew Wakefield). But that is less than 1/3 of their expenses. (click to enlarge)
They spent $14,889 on salary for Dawn Loughborough (the executive director). They spent $15,256 on catering and $7,383 on travel, plus other expenses. (click to enlarge)
Or, to put it simply: they took in about $100k. Of this about $20k went to actual program expenses, over $45k went to salary and other expenses and about $37k was left in the bank.
If you dontated, about $0.20 of each dollar went to program expenses (presumably Mr. Wakefield’s expenses) about $0.45 went to overhead and about $0.35 may be used for program expenses at a later time.
Should this grant have gone to Mr. Wakefield, I don’t see that covering a large fraction of his expenses for his failed lawsuit. Perhaps I’m wrong, but the effort involved multiple lawyers and many, many pages of documents.
By Matt Carey