Here's some more info:A medical child-abuse case brought by Multnomah County prosecutors accuses a Grants Pass woman of harming her children with unnecessary medical procedures, several of which were performed by pediatric neurosurgeon and U.S. Senate candidate Monica Wehby.
The case, which is scheduled for trial May 19, means Wehby’s work could be scrutinized on the eve of the primary vote tallied the following day. Preliminary hearings could provide some details before trial.
Wehby, who faces four opponents for the Republican nomination in the May 20 primary, declined to comment other than to refer inquiries to her employer, Legacy Health. Her campaign manager did so as well, saying Wehby was constrained by HIPAA, a federal privacy law that prohibits doctors from disclosing patient information.
Legacy is cooperating with police investigators in the case, according to spokesman Brian Terrett, but he declined to comment on specifics. Terrett called it “a very complex case that is very challenging for all those involved.”
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office has filed a 43-count indictment against Grants Pass resident Katherine Parker, who reportedly has as many as eight children, some adopted. - The Oregonian, 5/7/14
But wait, there's more:A local criminal psychologist said the Grants Pass mother of 8 accused of medical abuse may have been suffering from Munchausen by proxy syndrome (MBPS).
Investigators said Kate Parker, 44, will soon face charges at the downtown Justice Center after she lied to doctors, making them believe one of her children needed unnecessary medical treatment.
Doctor Frank Colistro, a criminal psychologist who in not involved with Parker’s case, said he believes the mother may have been suffering from MBPS, which is a form of child abuse in which a parent induces real or apparent symptoms of a disease in a child.
“A person reporting symptoms that don’t exist: feigning symptoms in another person (or) reporting illness of a child,” said Colistro.
Mike Trent, who is a former prosecutor in Texas, and who has prosecuted two medical child abuses cases spoke to KOIN 6 News by phone Wednesday and said anyone who commits medical child abuse for monetary gain is not suffering from a mental health issue. - KOIN 6, 5/2/14
And this particular case brings Wehby's medical career into the spotlight:The indictment alleges the abuse involved a son, now 8 years old, and two daughters, ages 4 and 6.
Parker is accused of intentionally causing physical injury to her children and manipulating physicians and encouraging unnecessary surgeries between April 2007 and October 2013.
The child abandonment count involved her 4-year-old daughter, who had been adopted from Ukraine.
Several blogs have been buzzing about the children and Parker has written extensively online about what she considered her children's ailments, which she said ranged from a boy with spina bifida and other special-needs kids with autism, Asperger's syndrome and brain ailments. Several of the children have had g-tubes -- tubing inserted through a surgical procedure into the stomach to provide a direct feeding line, according to the blogs. The mother wrote that some of the surgeries occurred at Portland hospitals.
The Grants Pass Daily Courier reported that at least six of the Parker children were the subject of a protective custody hearing two weeks ago in Josephine County. At that time, the judge ruled that the children could remain with their mother pending a trial. The status of the children is unclear now that Parker is in jail. - The Oregonian, 4/3/14
And Wehby has been boasting her medical career in her campaign against Merkley:Long before Monica Wehby entered the rough and tumble world of politics by running for the U.S. Senate, she was stirring controversy in the highly specialized world of pediatric neurosurgery.
Starting in the late 1990s, she advocated at pediatric neurosurgery gatherings for use of a well-known surgery on children even in instances where medical imaging didn't clearly support doing so -- but where other clues existed.
Other surgeons suspected she was doing some surgeries unnecessarily, and without adequate basis, said Dr. Curtis Rozzelle, a pediatric neurosurgeon for Children's Hospital of Alabama. "Her approach was met with a healthy degree of skepticism," he said.
"Out of the blue, this young person gets up and presents this wild and woolly idea," says Vancouver, B.C., pediatric neurosurgeon Paul Steinbok. The reaction from many doctors at these meetings, he said, was "She must be smoking pot or something down in Oregon."
Over time, the controversy has subsided, though disagreements persist. Wehby, 51, has pushed for broader use of a surgery to sever vestigial tissue that is believed to be tugging on the base of the spinal cord. A half-hour surgery for "tethered cord syndrome" releases the tension that causes nervous-system issues and a variety of symptoms that sometimes includes urinary incontinence. She says she only does it as a last resort.
Tethered cord surgery itself is not controversial, but using the procedure to treat a variety of the syndrome that doesn't show up in an MRI sparks disagreement among neurosurgeons to this day. - The Oregonian, 4/29/14
And since Wehby is a Republican running in a very blue state, she's having a hard time stating where she stands on the ACA:
It's an ad for Monica Wehby, a doctor running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Oregon produced by FP1 Strategies. And man is it good.
Why? Because it:
a) Shows rather than tells how Wehby's background -- she's the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Randall Children's Hospital in Portland -- is decidedly different than most people running for office.
b) Conveys a story -- of a newborn with spinal problems -- that sticks with you.
c) Looks different. The image of Lexi Liebelt, the mom, crying as she recounts the story of how Wehby reassured her that her daughter would be ok is powerful. The shots of the now 12-year old Gabby Liebelt are equally moving. - Washington Post, 4/24/14
And of course, she's backed by this guy:She's struck a milder tone on issues such as abortion, immigration, and gay marriage, mindful of voters who have not elected a Republican to statewide office since 2002. But as the GOP moves to frame this year's midterm elections around Obamacare, it's not entirely clear where Wehby stands on the health care law.
In her first television ad, titled "It's Not Brain Surgery," Wehby draws upon her experience as a pediatric neurosurgeon to discuss "how devastating Obamacare is for Oregon families and patients."
She also notes her call for a federal investigation into Cover Oregon, the state's health care exchange. And in her approval of the message, Wehby states, "As your senator I will fight to repeal and replace Obamacare."
Wehby released a radio ad Thursday stating she's "the only candidate for Senate who has fought to stop" Obamacare.
Her views on Obamacare appear to have changed from a couple of months ago. During an interview with the Portland Business Journal in November, Wehby was specifically asked if she would repeal Obamacare if elected.
"That’s not politically viable at this point," Wehby answered. "We can’t get it repealed with Obama in office. We have to focus on coming together with solutions - Huffington Post, 4/17/14
And of course she doesn't pass all the GOP voters conservative purity test:Mitt Romney will endorse Monica Wehby Thursday in the Oregon GOP Senate primary.
“Dr. Wehby is the kind of leader Oregon needs — someone who has strong experience outside of government, who can bring trust and accountability back to Washington,” the 2012 Republican nominee says in a forthcoming statement, shared first with POLITICO. “Dr. Wehby is putting forward a positive and conservative vision for her campaign that will make Oregonians proud.”
National Republicans are enthusiastic about Wehby, a Portland pediatric neurosurgeon who they hope can put the blue state in play if 2014 becomes a wave election. - Politico, 5/1/14
And there's also this:But Wehby is also facing strong and familiar criticism from within her own party that she's not conservative enough on social issues – particularly on abortion, which she has said is a woman's choice.
"Monica Wehby has her way of describing herself as pro-life, which is a little disingenuous," says Gayle Atteberry, executive director of Oregon Right to Life. "She says she's pro-life because she saves little babies with her medical skills, but the fact is she supports abortion rights."
Atteberry's group, which is backing the other top candidate in the primary race, social conservative state Rep. Jason Conger, 46, has launched fierce radio attacks against Wehby.
With polling in the primary race both scarce and unreliable, it's unclear whether the attacks have gotten traction with GOP primary voters. Or, conversely, whether voters have been persuaded by Wehby's well-funded effort, including a heart-tugging ad that featured her life-saving medical work and attracted national attention.
Wehby defeated Conger 182-131 in an early March straw poll at the Dorchester Conference, an annual party event founded five decades ago by former GOP Sen. Bob Packwood. Some social conservatives, however, boycotted and held a separate event. (Conger shuttled between the two.)
"The race is clearly between Dr. Wehby and Jason Conger," says former state GOP chairman Perry Atkinson. "And the two are representing the differences within the Republican Party."
Atkinson, president of a Christian broadcasting company in Medford, Ore., where he hosts a weekday program, says he's been careful not to endorse either candidate. But he says he believes that nominating more moderate Republicans like Wehby has not paid dividends in the liberal-leaning state. - NPR, 5/2/14
And here's something you should know about who's funding Wehby's campaign:The Democratic Party of Oregon waded into the GOP Senate primary battle Monday, asking the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether Stimson Lumber CEO Andrew Miller’s political action committee illegally coordinated with Portland pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby’s Senate campaign.
Miller, who is purported to be dating Wehby, is one of two major donors to “If He Votes Like That In Salem Imagine What He Will Do In Congress,” a political action committee that has attacked Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, for his votes related to the Affordable Care Act. Under campaign law, PACs making independent expenditures cannot coordinate their activities with the official campaign.
Wehby and Conger are the GOP frontrunners for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., in November’s general election.
In the filing, Oregon Democratic Party chairman Frank Dixon notes that Miller has commented publicly on behalf of the PAC, and has also helped fundraise for Wehby’s campaign as one of the hosts of an April 30 fundraiser.
“It is implausible that, in the course of his involvement with Wehby and the campaign, he has not been exposed to nonpublic information about the campaign’s nonpublic plans, projects, activities and needs,” the complaint states. “Accordingly, there is substantial evidence If He Votes knowingly made, and Wehby knowingly accepted, prohibited and excessive contributions.” - The Bend Bulletin, 5/6/14
With all this going on, Wehby has tried to shift focus onto Merkley:
As Democrats and Republicans jostle for control of the Senate in 2014, the Senate race in Oregon—where the incumbent is Democrat Jeff Merkley—is not considered much of a pickup opportunity for the GOP. But several Republican superdonors are trying to change that, including a multimillionaire vintner, one of the wealthiest conservative families in the country, and a sex hypnotist who has warned rape victims not to try to get "mileage" out of their stories.
These donors are opening their checkbooks for Monica Wehby, a political novice and Portland pediatric surgeon. A moderate, Wehby is touting her opposition to Obamacare. But Wehby is skipping the primary's only televised debate on May 16 and avoiding excess face time with the press. So she can use plenty of money on her side—and the donors' five- and six-figure contributions to super-PACs supporting Wehby have helped make her the leading candidate in the May 20 primary.
Wehby's most controversial benefactor is Loren Parks of Nevada, a medical-device retailer and a hypnotherapy hobbyist. Parks has donated $75,000 to a super-PAC with the awkward name If He Votes Like That in Salem Imagine What He Will Do in Congress, which has pelted Wehby's main opponent, state Rep. Jason Conger, with negative television ads. On Tuesday, a state PAC to which Parks gave $50,000, the Taxpayers Association of Oregon PAC, released a poll showing Wehby had a 21-point lead over Conger—a figure the Oregonian called "questionable."
A prolific contributor to state and federal candidates in Oregon, Parks is frequently described as the largest political donor in the state's history. He made his fortune selling medical equipment but gained notoriety in the past few years for starring in a YouTube series on treating sexual afflictions through hypnosis. In one of his dozens of video, Parks says some women grow fat so they won't be tempted to cheat on their husbands. In another, he claims he can help heal the trauma of rape and incest victims, but not "if you're getting mileage out of it, if you're getting status, satisfaction from telling your story again and again." In that video, Parks sounds a buzzer and shouts "Disconnect! Disconnect!" over and over.
On his website, Parks notes, "I am not a doctor." Yet he says he used his methods to relieve a woman of multiple sclerosis symptoms, adding, "this woman probably got her MS because she had left her husband, gone off with another man." On a now-defunct personal website, he once bragged that he could hypnotize women into becoming "sex machines."
Parks has become infamous in Oregon for these remarks. This caused one Republican running for state office this year to return $30,000 that Parks had given directly to his campaign. Parks has also settled out of court two civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct. One involved a mentally impaired woman whom Parks slept with after she approached him about his therapy. The other settlement resolved a case filed by a former employee who accused Parks of sending her extremely lewd emails and "trying to brainwash her into being his sexual and travel companion." - Mother Jones, 5/8/14
Both Wehby and Conger want to take out Merkley but they each have their own strategies to secure the nominee:
The 30-second commercial features Wehby charging that "career politicians like Jeff Merkley created a $17 billion deficit, and they still refuse to admit Obamacare is a disaster."
The ad opens with shots showing Wehby, a Portland pediatric neurosurgeon, in her medical scrubs saying, "In the operating room you have to get it right 100 percent of the time."
That line could draw some attention since the ad came out the same day that The Oregonian reported that Wehby had performed surgeries that are being scrutinized as part of a criminal case. The case involves a Grants Pass woman charged with abusing her children by persuading doctors, including Wehby, to conduct unneeded medical procedures, including surgery.
The ad comes less than two weeks before Oregon's May 20 primary. Wehby, whose major GOP rival is state Rep. Jason Conger, has raised much more money for advertising and has been able to dominate the broadcast TV market in the state. - The Oregonian, 5/7/14
Merkley of course has a healthy lead in the polls and has been focused on his job:Monica Wehby, a Portland surgeon, advertises herself as a fresh face in politics. But she’s also relying on big campaign contributions — some of them from Washington, D.C. — that have put her on the airwaves.
“It does not matter how great a candidate you are if nobody knows who you are and you can’t get your message out,” she says.
She also has big-name endorsements from Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, and Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker.
Jason Conger, a lawyer from Bend, unseated a Democratic incumbent in the Oregon House in 2010. He has raised far less than Wehby and hasn’t been on the airwaves in the Portland media market, which reaches more than half of Oregon’s voters.
But Conger is relying on his legislative record and his life story — which took him from poverty to prosperity, via a law degree from Harvard — to win the nomination from more conservative Republican primary voters.
“I am much more in alignment with two-thirds of the GOP in Oregon,” Conger says.
Three other candidates in the race are Mark Callahan, an information technology consultant from Salem; Tim Crawley, a lawyer from Portland; and Jo Rae Perkins, a former Linn County Republican chairwoman from Albany.
Though the candidates have appeared jointly at forums, there has been only one face-off between Conger and Wehby, and that was limited to attendees at the annual Dorchester Conference that took place March 7. Wehby rejected a proposed one-on-one appearance at Portland TV station KGW.
Wehby won the straw poll at Dorchester, an unofficial gathering of Republicans, but Conger also addressed a gathering of more conservative Republicans the next day in Clackamas.
The two will appear together May 16, four days before the primary, at the Portland City Club. - Portland Tribune, 5/8/14
And there's this:Peter Greene, 54, says the ailments he suffers from his military service during the First Gulf War make it hard for him to walk the bus stop near his Northeast Portland home. But he and nine other Gulf War veterans recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where they attended hearings and lobbied members of Congress to support medical research into Gulf War illnesses.
Greene was two-for-two in his efforts to add the signatures of Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to a letter calling for increased funding into the causes and treatments for Gulf War Illness. In all 11 senators asked their colleagues on a Defense subcommittee to commit $25 million to the effort this year.
The veterans attended a two-day meeting of the Department of Veterans Affairs Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, which heard about findings of recent research into the causes of the ailments. Researchers told the VA panel they have improved their understanding of the physiological effects of wartime exposure to toxins and other contaminants. And their report identifies some promising paths toward treatment of the 250,000 or so military veterans afflicted by some Gulf War illnesses.
Gulf War veterans have argued for years that their exposures to smoke from oil well fires, pesticides, toxic chemicals and military-issued anti-nerve gas drugs caused many of them to contract illnesses. In 2010, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said the agency would presume certain veterans suffering from nine specific diseases, from brucellosis to West Nile Virus, contracted the ailments because they served in the Gulf War. - The Oregonian, 5/8/14
But we need to make sure voters get out to the polls in November. If you would like to donate or get involved with Merkley's re-election campaign, you can do so here:On Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill to the Senate that, if made into a law, would let those with existing student loans refinance the loans, allowing them to get the same low rates as people borrowing now.
Some student loans have interest rates above 8 percent. If these borrowers are able to refinance to the current undergraduate rate of less than 4 percent, it could save them thousands of dollars in the long run.
Student debt is a problem that affects the majority of students.
Senator Merkley is one of more than 20 co-sponsors of the Senate bill, something he believes will help people afford college.
“This whole issue goes right to the heart of whether or not our children believe there is a pathway for them to pursue their talents and their skills and their dreams,” Merkley said. - KMTR Eugene, 5/7/14