In February, we reported on how the Medical Board of California filed an accusation against Simone Gold, MD, JD, putting her medical license at stake. In this report, we follow up on what has happened since then, including a lawsuit Gold brought against the board.
America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS) and its founder Simone Gold, MD, JD, faced a volatile year marked by internal and external professional and legal battles.
Earlier this year, the Medical Board of California filed an accusation against Gold, alleging “unprofessional conduct” and putting her medical license at risk.
The board claimed that Gold had acted unprofessionally based on her involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. She ended up serving a 6-week prison term in 2022 after pleading guilty to one count of entering and remaining in a restricted building.
In addition to Gold’s prison sentence, she was also ordered to complete an additional 12 months of supervision and to pay approximately $10,000 in criminal monetary penalties.
The board charged that Gold should be disciplined for two reasons. First, Gold had been “convicted of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a physician.” And second, she had “committed unprofessional conduct.”
In its accusation document, the board requested a hearing and asked that Gold have her medical license and her authority to supervise physician assistants or nurse practitioners revoked. It also asked that Gold pay for the investigation and enforcement of the case.
According to the California medical board’s website, Gold has not had a hearing about the reported disciplinary action and she still has her medical license.
In October, Gold filed her own complaint against the medical board, claiming its attempt to discipline her was a violation of her constitutional rights.
Gold’s complaint claimed that the medical board had “abused its authority and demanded physicians comply with a fatally flawed COVID-19 policy without consideration of whether it required physicians to violate their Hippocratic oath,” and that Gold had “done her utmost to honor her oath.”
Patient’s Family Sues AFLDS
In addition to Gold’s battle with the medical board, AFLDS was sued by the family of a patient, Jeremy Parker, who reportedly died after taking hydroxychloroquine that was prescribed by an AFLDS physician.
The lawsuit claimed that AFLDS, the Free Speech Foundation, and Medina Culver, DO, the patient’s prescribing physician, were allegedly responsible for the “wrongful death resulting from the ingestion of improperly prescribed hydroxychloroquine.”
The lawsuit also claimed that AFLDS played an instrumental role in convincing the patient that the drug was an effective treatment for COVID-19. To support their case, the lawsuit included the testimony of an independent expert, Bruce Bannister, DO, a physician from Nevada, where the patient died. Bannister reportedly claimed there was “a reasonable degree of medical probability” hydroxychloroquine caused Parker’s death. (The patient’s autopsy had revealed a small heart abnormality, according to a Washington Post report.)
According to an investigation by The Intercept, AFLDS records reportedly showed that Culver was one of 225 physicians affiliated with the organization and prescribed the drug despite evidence against its efficacy for COVID-19.
AFLDS denied that it had prescribed the patient hydroxychloroquine.
Internal Strife at AFLDS
Challenges for Gold and the AFLDS weren’t limited to external accusations from the federal government, state medical boards, or patients, though. Gold and AFLDS also faced a lengthy internal dispute that threatened to separate her from the organization.
The internal struggle began in November 2022 when a member of the AFLDS board accused Gold of inappropriate use of funds. The efforts to remove Gold were reportedly led by Joseph Gilbert, the AFLDS board chair and the chief operating officer at the time, according to a 20-page complaint filed in Florida’s U.S. Middle District Court.
Gold reportedly pushed back against the accusations, which she claimed were completely false, and counter-sued Gilbert. Gold was said to have maintained the broader support of AFLDS throughout the dispute.
After a bevy of supposed legal actions, Gold managed to maintain her leadership role with AFLDS.
The lawsuit filed by Gilbert was reportedly tossed by a federal judge in December of last year, according to the organization. With the threat of an attempted legal takeover of AFLDS out of sight, the organization held a virtual press conference in January 2023 to show it was unfazed by the ordeal and Gold remained the AFLDS president.
However, Gilbert did not resign from the AFLDS board for a few more months, according to the organization.