It’s shocking that anyone would take America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLD) seriously. It's a group that includes Dr. Stella “Demon Sperm” Immanuel. But the right-wing megadonors behind the Tea Party Patriots has helped funnel some serious money their way.
The Center for Media and Democracy obtained documents showing that
the Tea Party Patriots Foundation was the fiscal sponsor of the group behind AFLD, meaning that it was able to accept tax-deductible contributions on AFLD’s behalf while the group had not yet received IRS approval to accept tax-deductible donations itself. The group behind AFLD more than doubled its forecast budget from $400,000 in 2020 to $900,000, in 2021.
Yet the Tea Party Patriots are a political group that has nothing to do with medicine or public health. CMD describes them as “an extremist group founded in 2009 that helped organize the rally and march to the Capitol just before the violent insurrection.” Its donors include shipping-supply magnate Richard Uihlein, Gore-Tex heir David Gore (the biggest donors in 2020 and 2021, respectively) as well as the Freedom Works Foundation.
It’s hard to believe that even radical right-wingers would get behind this group. In July, they tried to get an injunction against the three U.S.-approved COVID vaccines claiming they did not limit the virus’ spread and that the pandemic is not really a public health emergency.
Are the Tea Party Patriots true believers or out to make a buck on quack cures? CMD notes that in 2020, the Tea Party Patriots hosted and funded an event in front of the U.S. Capitol where the AFLD criticized lockdowns, social distancing and face masks but promoted the unproven hydroxychloroquine as a COVID treatment. Since then, the doctors have joined right-wing politicians and media pundits in promoting ivermectin as a COVID treatment.
There’s little doubt AFLD are grifters. More from CMD:
As Time and NBC News reported, AFLD set up a website advertising medical consultations for $90. The site asks patients which treatment they prefer: “Ivermectin,” “Hydroxychloroquine” or “Not sure.”
Under the federal COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act from earlier this year, it is illegal to advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19 “unless you possess competent and reliable scientific evidence substantiating that the claims are true.” The FDA says that no such study exists for ivermectin.
While the site claims that the $90 payment is “pending” until the consultation is complete, customers identified by Time said they’d been charged for consultations that didn’t happen. Hundreds more said that after paying the fee, AFLD didn’t deliver the desired prescription, and others said that the digital pharmacies that AFLD connected them to quoted very high prices of up to $700 for ivermectin, which is not a costly drug.
There’s also the ReAwaken America tour, featuring the likes of ex-general Michael Flynn, MyPillow guy Mike Lindell, Immanuel and Dr. Simone Gold, AFLD’s leader who was also charged for her role in the January 6th insurrection. Gold could not be more intertwined with extreme right-wing notables. She’s on the National Leadership Council of the Save Our Country coalition, a collection of extremists that includes Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, among others.
So are these wingnut politicos making money off the grift? Do they really think the grifting doctors help their political cause? Are they spending the money to please Donald Trump? All of the above?