December 19, 2001
Where do politicians go after they leave office? Politicians and
their staffs usually have career planning on their radar screen.
Liberal Republican Bob Franks was confronted with this issue
during a heated New Jersey gubernatorial primary debate in 2001, and he
responded by saying he would "never" become a drug company lobbyist. A
few weeks after he was defeated, he reportedly became a $400,000-a-year
lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry.
Earlier this year, the Illinois legislature unanimously passed a
good and sensible bill to prohibit conflicts of interest for those who
serve on vaccine advisory panels. But the drug industry lobbyists held
an ace in the hole: lame-duck Illinois Governor George Ryan, soon to be
seeking new jobs for himself and his staff. He vetoed the bill.
The pharmaceutical corporations, whose generous political spending
gives them unrivaled clout with public officials, now have big plans to
capitalize on public fears after 9/11. The drug industry works closely
with the federal agency called the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), and conflicts of interest are customary on federal
and state drug advisory panels.
The CDC has just released, and is urging state legislatures to
pass, a Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (EHPA). It is an
unprecedented assault on the constitutional rights of the American
people, as well as on our fundamental principles of limited government
and separation of powers.
EHPA's principal author is Lawrence O. Gostin, a former member of
Clinton's discredited Task Force on Health Care Reform. Clinton's
attempted takeover of the entire health industry failed and resulted
instead in the Republican congressional victory of 1994.
The proposed EHPA would bring about government takeover of the
health industry by the states instead of by the federal government.
EHPA would give each governor sole discretion to grant himself far-
Under EHPA, the state legislature relinquishes its power to stop
overreaching by the governor until at least 60 days after his actions.
EHPA suggests requiring a two-thirds vote of the legislature declaring
that the risk has disappeared before the governor could be restrained.
The bill wouldn't allow the governor to be reversed just because
his actions are unwarranted, oppressive, or overreacting to the threat.
The legislature would have to find that the risk doesn't exist any
more, something many legislators would be reluctant to declare.
Here are some of the extraordinary powers EHPA would give to each
governor. He could control, restrict or prohibit firearms, seize
private property and even destroy it in many circumstances, and impose
price controls and rationing.
He could order people out of their homes into dangerous
quarantines where there would be no guarantee of safety from violence
or contagious disease. Children could be taken from their parents and
thrown into public quarantines managed by government officials.
The governor could demand that physicians administer certain drugs
despite individuals' objections and with no provision for religious
exemptions. Without any checks or balances, the governor would become
both doctor and policeman.
Under EHPA, government authorities would have full access, without
meaningful limitation, to everyone's medical records. If the alleged
emergency turned out to be grossly exaggerated or even a hoax,
government need not return the private records.
Remember how Bill and Hillary Clinton got shocking access to, and
were able to use, hundreds of FBI files about their political
opponents? EHPA would authorize similar intrusions by government
officials through access to the personal medical files of their
No public health emergency justifies EHPA's draconian
infringements on our liberties. EHPA would grant these powers to
governors without any showing of a real emergency, and merely an
isolated case of a serious disease, or even a misdiagnosis, could
trigger the governor's seizure of power.
George Annas, chairman of the Health Law Department at Boston
University School of Public Health, says that "this law treats American
citizens as if they were the enemy."
Already, the drug company lobbyists have gotten 43 states to order
mandatory vaccination of all schoolchildren against hepatitis B, even
though the CDC reports only a tiny number of cases among children under
age 14, and the disease is avoidable by lifestyle choices. Some
schools are even refusing to recognize medical and religious
Money is behind these laws, not logic or emergency. If you check
out who is pushing these drug mandates, you will usually find
pharmaceutical corporation "research" grants, political contributions,
and layers of conflicts of interest.
The CDC and vaccine makers are pushing state legislatures to enact
ever more far-reaching drug mandates and enforcement and to put EHPA on
state legislative dockets starting in January. Secretary of Health and
Human Services Tommy Thompson has called for EHPA's passage.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) opposes
EHPA, and state legislatures should heed the physicians' advice.
Governors should not be playing doctor nor should they be grabbing
For more information go to:
Prescription for disaster Jonathan Turley column, Jan. 7, 2002
ALERT: Governor's 'Emergency' Power to Control Your Lives
UPDATE: States Begin Work On Emergency Health Powers Act