State Watch

Head of California medical board says anti-vaccine activists showed up at her home, followed to her office

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The president of the Medical Board of California was allegedly stalked and harassed by a group affiliated with America’s Frontline Doctors, a right-wing organization that promotes unapproved medications for COVID-19 and opposes vaccines.

Kristina Lawson, the president of the board, which licenses and oversees physicians in the state, tweeted on Wednesday about the group’s efforts to harass her.

Lawson said the right-wing, anti-vaccine group parked near her home in Walnut Creek with a black SUV. They flew a drone over her house before following her to work.

“At least one of the members of the group had flown across the country to stake me out,” she wrote. “That evening, when I left the office building and entered the parking garage, four men jumped out of the SUV with cameras and recording equipment and confronted me as I tried to get into my car to drive home.”

Lawson contacted the Walnut Creek Police Department, which is investigating the incident. Members of the group told officers they were seeking to interview her, but Lawson — who said the group “ambushed” her — said that no one affiliated with America’s Frontline Doctors ever contacted her or her press office.

The Walnut Creek Police Department confirmed they were contacted around 5:30 p.m by Lawson about the incident. 

Police also alluded to a possible connection between a “detective” and the harassment of Lawson.

Earlier that day, police said they received a call from a man identifying himself as a detective from Georgia. He notified police he would be in the area conducting surveillance.

“The dispatcher asked if the person was armed and he said he was, but that it was locked in a case. This dispatcher also took down a vehicle description to let officers know,” police said in a press release. “These types of notifications are considered normal when an out-of-area investigator is working on a case in another agency’s jurisdiction.”

The man called again and reported he was near Lawson’s office, about one minute from her location, later that day.

Police are continuing to investigate, but believe the two incidents are connected.

America’s Frontline Doctors, an organization founded last year with close ties to the conservative Tea Party Patriots, has promoted controversial medication for COVID-19, including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, both of which are not approved by the FDA.

The Federation of State Medical Boards issued a recommendation this summer that asked states not to license doctors or medical physicians who promote false COVID-19 medications.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia told NBC Bay Area that incidents of harassment surrounding COVID-19 misinformation are happening more often.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing in this country this increased polarization where people now are attacking others personally, bullying others,” he said. “And we’re seeing that as part of information about COVID, unfortunately.”

Lawson, however, said she was not deterred by the group’s efforts.

“I will continue to do this work even when it is hard, and notwithstanding that there is an organized effort to scare me away from it,” Lawson wrote. “That means protecting Californians from bad doctors, and ensuring disinformation and misinformation do not detract from our work to protect patients and consumers.”

— Updated at 4:35 p.m.

Tags America's Frontline Doctors anti-vaccination California harassment Kristina Lawson Medical Board of California Protest Stalking Walnut Creek Walnut Creek Police Department
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