Sen. Ron Johnson invites AIDS-denying anti-vaxxer to testify on COVID

Sen. Ron Johnson invites AIDS-denying anti-vaxxer to testify on COVID
U.S. Customs and Border Protection/ Wikimedia Commons

Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, has invited a physician known for opposing vaccines and promoting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 to testify before the Senate on the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.

Dr. Jane Orient "will be the lead witness at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday, prompting criticism from Democrats who say Republicans should not give a platform to someone who spreads conspiracy theories," The New York Times reports.

She is the head of two fringe medical groups, the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons and Doctors for Disaster Preparedness.

Orient and her groups oppose vaccine mandates, support the false claim being gay reduces life expectancy, and warned in a 2018 article of "tattooed MS-13 gang members, rapists, jihadists, human traffickers, and other criminals intent on harming Americans. Such people also infect, molest, assault, or murder people in their own countries and in the caravan."

Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP) rejects the scientifically-proven theory of man-made climate change, and supports debunked quackery known as AIDS denialism. At its 2015 annual meeting, Bloomberg reported, one speaker, a "retired heart surgeon from Seattle spent almost an hour arguing that HIV does not cause AIDS; rather, he said, the link was invented by government scientists who wanted to cover up other health risks of 'the lifestyle of homosexual men.'"

In an interview with the Times she criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government's most-respected public voice on the coronavirus pandemic, asking, "Why is he dictating care for 340 million Americans?"

Orient has called vaccine mandates "a serious intrusion into individual liberty, autonomy and parental decisions," the Times notes, and has "resisted being cast as an 'anti-vaxxer'" but "opposed the government's push for all Americans to be vaccinated against the coronavirus."

"Her selection as a witness as federal health officials are trying to promote a vaccine as a way to end a pandemic that has killed more than 281,000 Americans prompted harsh criticism from Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader."

Orient is funded by extremist Robert Mercer, Bloomberg added in its prescient January, 2016 article.

"Working with his daughter Rebekah, he's spent tens of millions more to advance a conservative agenda, investing in think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, the media outlet Breitbart.com, and Cambridge Analytica, a data company that builds psychological profiles of voters."

Cambridge Analytica was the scandal-plagued political consulting firm that helped place Donald Trump in the white House.

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