Heckuva job? Keroack’s Bogus Credentials, Did Bush Know?

Lindsay Beyerstein

Lindsay Beyerstein exposes anti-contraception, former family planning czar Eric Keroack's attempts to cover-up his woefully unqualified medical background and lapsed credentials.

The former head of the federal agency overseeing family planning programs misled the public about his qualifications and background, a RAW STORY investigation has found.

Appointed by President George W. Bush in late 2006 as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Eric J. Keroack resigned unexpectedly in March of this year after Massachusetts officials launched a formal investigation into allegations of Medicaid fraud during his tenure in private practice.

Medicaid is a state-federal health program for the poor.

Although as an appointee he quickly became mired in controversy over his opposition to birth control, abortion and comprehensive sex education, newly obtained documents show that from the start Dr. Keroack was far from qualified to head the federal women’s health program.

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As Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs, Dr. Keroack was responsible for a $283 million budget and charged with running a federal agency overseeing women’s health issues such as screening for cervical and breast cancer, contraception planning, pregnancy counseling and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. However, a RAW STORY investigation has found that Keroack either misled the Bush administration about his background or was appointed regardless of his record and with little vetting.

HHS officials repeatedly cited Keroack’s long tenure in private practice as one of his key qualifications, along with his highly publicized role as medical director for a chain of Christian pregnancy centers.

According to the Washington Post, “Eric Keroack, a nationally known advocate of abstinence until marriage, served for more than a decade as medical director for A Woman’s Concern, a Massachusetts nonprofit group that discourages abortion and does not distribute information promoting birth control. But HHS spokeswoman Christina Pearson said yesterday that most of Keroack’s professional time had been devoted to his private practice of 20 years, not the group.”

Documents and interviews with Keroack’s associates, however, show that the post of medical director was merely a part-time or volunteer job. Keroack’s claims of an extensive private practice also appear dubious.

Administration vaunted bogus credentials

Records from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine show that Dr. Keroack did not finish his residency in obstetrics and gynecology until 1993. This means he could not possibly have practiced obstetrics for 20 years.

In addition, according to the Post, Dr. Keroack’s board certification as an OBGYN, which would have been good for ten years, had lapsed in 2005, a full year before his appointment. As a result, Keroack’s tenure in private practice as a board-certified OB-GYN at the time of his appointment could have been no more than 10 years.

Documents obtained by RAW STORY suggest that Keroack may have been in practice even less time.

When Dr. Keroack took stewardship of Population Affairs in 2006, Massachusetts’ medical licensing board had already spent roughly a year reviewing a complaint that he had violated ethical norms by prescribing medications for people who weren’t his patients, had practiced outside of his area of specialty and had attempted to defraud the insurance system.

Massachusetts medical board spokesman Randal Aims said late last week that when a complaint is filed against a physician, the doctor is allowed to respond in writing. In Keroack’s Sept. 18, 2005 response, in which he defended himself against the allegation that he was not qualified to provide counseling, he indicated that he had not been in practice for “over 5-years.”

“As you might expect, the fact that it has been over 5-years [sic] since I took a leave from my direct practice of clinical medicine in the North Shore area has made the location of some of the individual single session C.M.E. lectures quite difficult,” he wrote. “I confess to being less than perfect when it comes to long-term personal record keeping.”

This indicates that as of 2005, Keroack had withdrawn from practicing clinical medicine at least five years earlier, suggesting that the duration of his tenure in private practice was roughly five years.

The same document also includes Dr. Keroack’s admission that he has no proof that he completed the Continuing Medical Education modules required to maintain his medical license.

HHS spokewoman Christine Pearson told the Post Keroack “inadvertently missed the recertification deadline” and “plans to seek recertification in the future.”

Records show that Keroack also let another professional certification lapse in 2005. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s director of membership services, Bernice Jones, confirmed in a letter that Keroack’s membership in the College had lapsed in July, 2005.

RAW STORY asked Pearson to respond concerning these discrepancies between Dr. Keroack’s background and the public profile presented by HHS and to provide his official biography and any press releases or statements regarding his hiring, his term in office or his resignation. Responding via email, Pearson indicated that she’d never seen a copy of Dr. Keroack’s resume.

“I have never had a copy of his resume nor am I aware of any press releases, pre-hiring announcements or press releases pertaining to his acts while he was in office,” Pearson wrote.

Asked to explain how she knew how long Dr. Keroack had been in practice, Pearson explained that he had personally told her of his qualifications.

Another HHS spokesperson, Rebecca Ayer, said that HHS had never had an official biography for Dr. Keroack, but provided assurances that he had gone through the “standard hiring process.”

Saying she could not comment further on personnel issues due to the Privacy Act, Ayer suggested this reporter file a Freedom of Information Request.

Medical directorship was part-time or volunteer job

The controversy over Dr. Keroack’s association with A Woman’s Concern and his particular views with regard to women’s health in the wake of his appointment may have overshadowed deeper issues regarding his actual background.

A Woman’s Concern’s tax records show no mention of him during the six-year period he was supposed to have been the medical director. As a non-profit, AWC is required to list all employees and contractors who are paid more than $50,000 per year.

Mark Conrad, the president of A Woman’s Concern, said that Dr. Keroack was only a part-time volunteer with the organization and simultaneously rented an office at one of their facilities.

Former Woman’s Concern president Rev. Ensor, who led the organization during most of Keroack’s tenure, gave a different account.

“Was he paid? Sure he was paid,” Ensor said. “Some seasons he volunteered, and sometimes we paid him.”

Dr. Keroack’s private practice address during this period shows him at 103 Broadway in Revere, MA – in the same building as one of the AWC pregnancy centers. Both Conrad and Ensor agree that the doctor rented space from AWC but has now terminated his lease with the clinic. The phone number for Keroack’s office at that facility is disconnected.

The business address Dr. Keroack lists on his physician profile is in Marblehead, Mass. The phone number is registered in the name of D. Merrick and was shown by additional background checks to be located at yet another address in Marblehead, 5 Orchard Circle.

Real estate records indicate that 5 Orchard Circle is a single-family home owned by Eric J. Keroack. It is not clear who owns or lives at or practices out of the second Marblehead address.

RAW STORY made repeated calls to the phone the number listed in the physician profile. During one such call, a woman answered the phone. She did not identify herself but did confirm that the number belonged to Dr. Keroack and that there was no office or other number by which he could be reached. Subsequent calls to the number yielded an answering machine message that strongly suggested the number was a residential line and not a doctor’s office.

Moreover, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office said they have no record of Keroack “registering to run an office-based practice in the state.”

Dr. Keroack did not return repeated phone calls and emails seeking comment.

Keroack’s abrupt resignation

Dr. Keroack announced in late March of this year that he was resigning to defend himself against allegations of Medicaid fraud levied against his clinical practice. It is not clear whether the Medicaid investigation he was referring to was sparked by the ethical complaints filed with the medical board against him during his dual role as a private practice gynecologist and volunteer at A Woman’s Concern.

It’s possible that there are other complaints against Keroack that have yet to be resolved. Massachusetts board spokesman Russell Aims told RAW STORY that as of January, 2007, two earlier complaints against Keroack’s license had been resolved. Aims, however, stressed that medical licensing authorities in Massachusetts are prohibited from acknowledging the existence of unresolved claims still pending against a physician’s license.

Though he has no formal research credentials, Dr. Keroack has lectured widely from a PowerPoint presentation that uses Loony Tunes characters to illustrate his theory that premarital sex damages the female brain, making non-abstinent women incapable of forming emotional bonds.

Keroack’s highly unorthodox medical views had originally cast doubt on his qualifications to serve as the nation’s birth control czar. His appointment did not require confirmation from Congress.

This story originally appeared on The Raw Story.

News Politics

Missouri ‘Witch Hunt Hearings’ Modeled on Anti-Choice Congressional Crusade

Christine Grimaldi

Missouri state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) said the Missouri General Assembly's "witch hunt hearings" were "closely modeled" on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans' special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life.

Congressional Republicans are responsible for perpetuating widely discredited and often inflammatory allegations about fetal tissue and abortion care practices for a year and counting. Their actions may have charted the course for at least one Republican-controlled state legislature to advance an anti-choice agenda based on a fabricated market in aborted “baby body parts.”

“They say that a lot in Missouri,” state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) told Rewire in an interview at the Democratic National Convention last month.

Newman is a longtime abortion rights advocate who proposed legislation that would subject firearms purchases to the same types of restrictions, including mandatory waiting periods, as abortion care.

Newman said the Missouri General Assembly’s “witch hunt hearings” were “closely modeled” on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans’ special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life. Both formed last year in response to videos from the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from fetal tissue donations. Both released reports last month condemning the reproductive health-care provider even though Missouri’s attorney general, among officials in 13 states to date, and three congressional investigations all previously found no evidence of wrongdoing.

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Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R), the chair of the committee, and his colleagues alleged that the report potentially contradicted the attorney general’s findings. Schaefer’s district includes the University of Missouri, which ended a 26-year relationship with Planned Parenthood as anti-choice state lawmakers ramped up their inquiries in the legislature. Schaefer’s refusal to confront evidence to the contrary aligned with how Newman described his leadership of the committee.

“It was based on what was going on in Congress, but then Kurt Schaefer took it a step further,” Newman said.

As Schaefer waged an ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the Missouri Republican attorney general primary, the once moderate Republican “felt he needed to jump on the extreme [anti-choice] bandwagon,” she said.

Schaefer in April sought to punish the head of Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis affiliate with fines and jail time for protecting patient documents he had subpoenaed. The state senate suspended contempt proceedings against Mary Kogut, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, reaching an agreement before the end of the month, according to news reports.

Newman speculated that Schaefer’s threats thwarted an omnibus abortion bill (HB 1953, SB 644) from proceeding before the end of the 2016 legislative session in May, despite Republican majorities in the Missouri house and senate.

“I think it was part of the compromise that they came up with Planned Parenthood, when they realized their backs [were] against the wall, because she was not, obviously, going to illegally turn over medical records.” Newman said of her Republican colleagues.

Republicans on the select panel in Washington have frequently made similar complaints, and threats, in their pursuit of subpoenas.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the chair of the select panel, in May pledged “to pursue all means necessary” to obtain documents from the tissue procurement company targeted in the CMP videos. In June, she told a conservative crowd at the faith-based Road to Majority conference that she planned to start contempt of Congress proceedings after little cooperation from “middle men” and their suppliers—“big abortion.” By July, Blackburn seemingly walked back that pledge in front of reporters at a press conference where she unveiled the select panel’s interim report.

The investigations share another common denominator: a lack of transparency about how much money they have cost taxpayers.

“The excuse that’s come back from leadership, both [in the] House and the Senate, is that not everybody has turned in their expense reports,” Newman said. Republicans have used “every stalling tactic” to rebuff inquiries from her and reporters in the state, she said.

Congressional Republicans with varying degrees of oversight over the select panel—Blackburn, House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (MI)—all declined to answer Rewire’s funding questions. Rewire confirmed with a high-ranking GOP aide that Republicans budgeted $1.2 million for the investigation through the end of the year.

Blackburn is expected to resume the panel’s activities after Congress returns from recess in early September. Schaeffer and his fellow Republicans on the committee indicated in their report that an investigation could continue in the 2017 legislative session, which begins in January.

Analysis Politics

Timeline: Donald Trump’s Shifting Position on Abortion Rights

Ally Boguhn

Trump’s murky position on abortion has caused an uproar this election season as conservatives grapple with a Republican nominee whose stance on the issue has varied over time. Join Rewire for a look back at the business mogul's changing views on abortion.

For much of the 2016 election cycle, Donald Trump’s seemingly ever-changing position on reproductive health care and abortion rights has continued to draw scrutiny.

Trump was “totally pro-choice” in 1999, but “pro-life” by 2011. He wanted to shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood in August 2015, but claimed “you can’t go around and say that” about such measures two months later. He thinks Planned Parenthood does “very good work” but wants to see it lose all of its funding as long as it offers abortion care. And, perhaps most notoriously, in late March of this year Trump took multiple stances over the course of just a few hours on whether those who have abortions should be punished if it became illegal.

With the hesitancy of anti-choice groups to fully embrace Trump—and with pro-choice organizations like Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and EMILY’s List all backing his opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton—it is likely his stance on abortion will remain a key election issue moving into November.

Join Rewire for a look back at the business mogul’s changing views on abortion.

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