NEW YORK: The American Council on Science and Health does not believe that its executive director's criminal past will have any effect on its ability to deliver a credible message, the organization?s leadership has said.
Dr. Gilbert Ross, medical and executive director of the advocacy group, doesn't dispute that he served time in prison for Medicaid fraud, reported this month in the November/December issue of Mother Jones.
But he does question the motives of the publication.
"The folks who attacked me in this piece are trying to attack our message by going through me," Ross said. "All our ideas are based on sound science. I don't think they will succeed."
ACSH receives funding from companies in industries such as food, drugs, and chemicals. It is often a go-to source for the press on health issues that could potentially hurt business.
Its senior staff, for example, is frequently quoted in the media disputing that chemicals in water or low levels of radiation in the environment can be harmful.
According to Mother Jones, Ross was sentenced to 46 months in prison in the mid '90s for his part in a scheme that involved setting up sham medical clinics to defraud Medicaid. Homeless or drug-addicted "patients" submitted to unnecessary tests and provided their Medicaid numbers in exchange for expensive drug prescriptions.
The ACSH posted a response to the article on its website.
In a statement, president and founder Elizabeth Whelan noted that the group has received a "handful" of inquiries about the story.
"The reality is that the transgression did occur and that it has been paid for in full ? but that it has no relevance to [Ross's] superb work at ACSH during the 21st century," Whelan wrote.
A second statement attributed to the ACSH's Founder's Circle called Mother Jones a "fringe magazine" that published the piece to "distract the public from the bankruptcy of their own agenda."