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The anti-COVID-vax founder of America’s Frontline Doctors has a license to practice in Florida

 In this screengrab from a YouTube video, Dr. Simone Gold reads a speech as she stands in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Julio Ochoa
/
YouTube
In this screengrab from a YouTube video, Dr. Simone Gold reads a speech as she stands in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Dr. Simone Gold, serving a 60-day sentence for participating in the Jan. 6 protest at the U.S. Capitol, has opened an online medical practice based in Naples.

Dr. Simone Gold, an emergency-room doctor who became one of the country’s most vocal anti-vaxxers during the COVID 19 pandemic, has adopted Florida as her new home. In videos, she says she prefers its politics to what she calls “the communist nation of California.”

In the spring, she moved to Naples, set up a new company and on July 22 received a Florida medical license.

She’s not practicing yet, though. That’s because she’s been in prison since July 26, serving a 60-day sentence at the Federal Detention Center in Miami imposed after she pleaded guilty to trespassing into a restricted building: the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The health department issued Gold’s medical license after reviewing the records in her case, according to a transcript of her June 16 sentencing hearing. The health department's press office did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, two things are happening: The state of California is trying to take Gold’s license away, according to the court transcript. And the group Gold founded in 2020, America’s Frontline Doctors, is raising heaps of money on a “Free Dr. Gold” campaign -- more than $430,000 as of mid-June.

The video the group posted says she is being persecuted for “daring to speak the truth that the government wanted to hide.”

What did it want to hide? As Gold explains in another video, “COVID can be treated without relying on masks, lockdown or experimental therapies.” She says the vaccine is dangerous, and has endorsed medications that the FDA regards as ineffective for treating COVID-19, including hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

Gold, 56, has a flair for drama and literally waves the flag in her videos. The one on her group’s home page says: “I’m Dr. Simone Gold, founder of America’s Frontline Doctors. For the past two years, corrupt forces in the media, government and medicine have been lying to you. Countless lives have been lost and permanently damaged due to this corruption. We’re here to show you the way forward - with science, with law and with a return to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Dr. Simone Gold discourages vaccination against COVID-19 and promotes alternative, unproven therapies. She has spent much of the past year speaking at events like this one held in West Palm Beach, Fla., in December. The conference was aimed at young people ages 15 to 25.
Gage Skidmore
Dr. Simone Gold discourages vaccination against COVID-19 and promotes alternative, unproven therapies. She has spent much of the past year speaking at events like this one held in West Palm Beach, Fla., in December. The conference was aimed at young people ages 15 to 25.

'I made a mistake'

At her sentencing, Gold asked for leniency. “I made a mistake. I have consistently said so. I deeply regret going inside the Capitol.”

But U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper said he was skeptical, in that “your organization has used your notoriety to raise money and garner support for you in connection with this sentencing … by mischaracterizing what this proceeding is all about.

“Your organization is leading people to the misimpression that this is a political prosecution or is about free speech. It ain’t about free speech. I mean, Jan. 6 was about a lot of things, but it was not about the First Amendment, and it was certainly not about COVID treatments or vaccinations. …. The only reason you’re here is where and when and how you chose to express your views…”

The judge said that given that Gold is obviously bright – an emergency-medicine career and a law degree from Stanford -- she should have known better. While other Jan. 6 defendants “were misled and hoodwinked into coming to D.C. that day … I think you well knew what you were doing.”

Federal authorities asked for a six-month sentence; Gold’s attorneys asked for time served. The judge sentenced her to 60 days, plus a year of supervision and a $9,500 fine. He also suggested that America’s Frontline Doctors curtail its “Free Dr. Gold” campaign:

“I find it unseemly that your organization is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for its operations, including your salary, based on your participation in Jan. 6. I think that is a real disservice to the true victims of that day.”

However, the videos remain as of Wednesday. Requests for comment to America’s Frontline Doctors drew no response. In a video posted just before Gold entered prison, she said she is a political prisoner subjected to “selective prosecution,” like others arrested in connection with Jan. 6. “It’s total fascism,” Gold said. “The judiciary’s totally corrupt, and not just the judiciary, but also the executive branch, the Department of Justice and FBI.”

Opposition begins

America’s Frontline Doctors burst onto the public scene two years ago, when Gold and other doctors dressed in white coats held a press conference on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, protesting the lockdown, masking and other public health guidelines on COVID-19. One of those who appeared with Gold that day was Dr. Joseph Ladapo, who would later become Florida’s Surgeon General. President Donald Trump and his son Don Jr. tweeted a link to the video.

Although that press conference and others have been mostly scrubbed from YouTube, Facebook and other mass social media on the grounds of "misinformation," Gold has become a favorite of right-wing outlets. Her group posts videos on its own site and on Rumble.com.

In a profile of Gold last year, Mother Jones magazine portrayed her as a high-achieving but ordinary Jewish wife and mother in Beverly Hills who went through divorce and became radicalized in a bizarre midlife crisis. It culminated in the rotunda of the Capitol, with Gold perched on the statue of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower with a bullhorn in her hands, next to her boyfriend John Strand. He was arrested too, and records show he is awaiting trial.

Last fall, following an article on Gold and her group by Time.com, Rep. James Clyburn, chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, accused them of profiting through prescribing worthless remedies online. He issued a letter asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. A spokeswoman for the FTC said the agency could not comment on whether it is investigating.

Meanwhile, the California Assembly passed a bill inspired by Gold calling it “unprofessional conduct” for physicians to disseminate misinformation about COVID-19. That bill is pending in the California Senate.

Florida practice

Gold’s new Florida company, GoldCare Health & Wellness LLC , is recruiting physicians, pharmacists and others and marketing to consumers online. It is described as a “private membership association” that costs $1,000 a year to join, $2,000 for a family. No private or government insurance is accepted for consultations that cost up to $100 per 15 minutes via telemedicine, according to marketing materials. Lab tests and prescriptions cost extra. Hospital care is not covered.

The idea, according to the website, is to “serve each patient’s best interest and promote medical freedom. … Because we don’t allow government or insurance to control health care decisions, the patient-physician relationship can flourish.”

Attempts to learn more were rebuffed. A staff member identified only as Miriam wrote, “At this time we are not doing any media interviews.”

Dr. Stephen Barrett, who runs the nonprofit service Quackwatch.org, looked into the group and issued a report last month, concluding. “I do not believe its offerings are worthwhile.”

Copyright 2022 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.