On Monday, The Daily Beast reported that America's Frontline Doctors, a group of far-right medical practitioners who push pseudoscience about the COVID-19 pandemic, is imploding in a fight over the group's founder, Dr. Simone Gold, and her alleged misappropriation of the organization's funds.
"For months, AFLDS has been split between its board and Gold, the group’s charismatic founder and convicted Capitol rioter, over an internal audit into Gold’s personal spending," reported Will Sommer. "That dispute spilled into the open on Nov. 5, when the board sued Gold to try and force her to stop representing the organization, in a lawsuit first reported by Vice News. Now the lawsuit’s outcome could determine the fate of the group driving much of the medical disinformation on the pro-Trump right."
"AFLDS is tearing itself apart in a fight over what Gold’s rivals describe as her extravagant spending using the group’s funds," said the report. "The alleged purchases include $100,000 on a single private jet trip and $50,000 a month in Gold’s personal expenses. Much of the controversy has centered on AFLDS’s purchase of a $3.6 million mansion in Naples, Florida., where Gold lives with her boyfriend: a much younger underwear model and fellow Capitol rioter. Gold isn’t backing down, penning threatening emails to board members and describing herself, alternately, as a 'popular folk hero,' a 'rainmaker,' and an avenging 'lioness.'"
Gold was sentenced to 60 days in jail in June for her participation in storming the Capitol, after being scolded by a judge for complaining that the whole trial had "shredded" her reputation.
The board's lawsuit states that after she resigned from AFLDS over her Capitol riot charges, "Gold tried to negotiate a position as a fundraising consultant for the organization with a hefty $1.5 million signing bonus and $600,000 annual salary. Gold ultimately agreed to stay on as a consultant — though it’s not clear what financial deal she received. Michael Thatcher, the CEO of charity evaluator Charity Navigator, told The Daily Beast that Gold’s proposed payment would likely be unusually lucrative, considering the amount of money controlled by AFLDS. 'That sounds like a high amount, particularly for a consultant,' Thatcher said."
AFLDS was one of the most prominent groups pushing conspiracy theories about COVID, including that it could be treated with the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and horse deworming medication ivermectin. They attained national prominence with a "White Coat Summit" in Washington, D.C. featuring a Houston doctor named Stella Immanuel, who has claimed that demons from hell are inseminating humans and that other doctors are treating patients with genetic material from space aliens. The Texas Medical Board subsequently punished Immanuel for prescribing hydroxychloroquine without proof of informed consent.