Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fact Check on ABIM's Director of Investigations

On 9 February 2017, I received a note from the editor of Philadelphia Medicine magazine requesting that I respond to a letter they received from Sidney Baumgarten, Esq, a friend and counsel for Ariel Benjamin Mannes, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM)'s Director of Investigations, whom I had mentioned in their publication dedicated to the ABIM that was released in December, 2016. Yesterday, Mr. Baumgarten's letter and my rebuttal appeared in the Spring 2017 issue (5 Mbytes) of Philadelphia Medicine magazine.

I have reproduced the contents of Mr. Baumgarten's original letter regarding Mr. Mannes and my rebuttal to his letter below:

December 27, 2016

Philadelphia Medicine Magazine
c/o Philadelphia County Medical Society
Alan J. Miceli, Editor
2100 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia PA 19130

Dear Mr. Miceli,

I am writing this letter hoping that you will give it serious consideration and make it available to the members of the Society as well as those who read your publication.

I have been a friend and counsel to Ariel Benjamin Mannes, the Director of Investigations (formerly Test Security) at the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), for many years. I must say, candidly, that with over 50 years of law practice I have never before seen the likes of the repeated attempts by Dr. Westby G. Fisher to malign a person based upon an 11-year old “blip” in his long and successful career of public trust. It is, to be sure, unconscionable, to be using invective to shame the ABIM and, along the way, destroying the career and good name of a very honest, competent person, I know that if a member physician were similarly treated you would be mounting the ramparts to obviate its harm to his/her career.

First, Mr. Mannes was a member of the DC Police Department with a very fine record of service. He had been on a leave of absence and was awaiting reinstatement to duty while working part time at a DC restaurant when the incident in question occurred. That night, Mr. Mannes intervened in an altercation and himself called the police for assistance and was in possession of a legally licensed handgun from Virginia where he lived, but not technically permitted then in DC. His arrest and conviction was solely for illegal possession of the weapon; one felony, not two as Dr. Fisher alleges.

Interestingly, Ben’s employment appeal was won and he was reinstated to the DC Police, and was ordered prior to the incident and was successfully reinstated, our legal view was that he was a de facto police officer at the time of the incident. It should also be noted that the very law Mr. Mannes plead guilty to was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Second, Ben had served with the US Department of Homeland Security on a TSA-led rail inspection team with a security clearance, even on the night of the incident. He had also held roles before moving to DC with the US Federal Protective Service in New York following the first World Trade Center bombing trials and the CAT Eyes program where he trained police instructors on anti-terrorism in multiple jurisdictions. Even after the aforementioned incident he worked as a contractor on homeland security technology initiatives in Los Angeles, Ohio and the Philadelphia region. In multiple instances, Mr. Mannes was able to assist me in my role as Chief of Staff of the Army Division of the New York Guard after 9/11. In fact, his intelligence gathering enabled us in New York to be forewarned of serious threats.

Third, because Ben was a resident of New York for many years, he was able to obtain a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities issued by the State of New York several years ago, which relieved him of any impediments to employment, etc. as a result of his plea and conviction.

Finally, our laws here in New York (where Mr. Mannes’ certificate was issued) prohibit discrimination against a person who has one criminal conviction. It is codified in our Human Rights Law and our Correction Law. Both are designed to prevent the stigma of one arrest from interfering with future employment.

As you can see, the one incident revealed nothing that would even suggest any form of dishonesty of other reason for the ABIM to reject his services. Mr. Mannes’ position was designed with a myriad of checks and balances and his casework, to include the one cited in your publication, have been upheld in courts of law on numerous occasions. Mr. Mannes is a consummate professional, active in the federal and local security community, who has made the appropriate disclosures in both his pre-employment background check at ABIM and the vetting process for appointments he has held since, to include his elected Governorship at Infragard, a public private partnership coordinated by the FBI.

To put it bluntly. Mr. Mannes is being unfairly pilloried to serve Dr. Fisher’s own differences with the ABIM. It is especially unseemly for the member of a highly respected profession to undertake the willful destruction of another human being for his own motives. Mr. Mannes has worked extremely hard over the last 11 years to undo the unfortunate incidents of one night and surely does not deserve to have his family, friends, and colleagues read disparaging, inaccurate things about him in the pages of your publication. I am sure Hippocrates would blush.

Sincerely,


Sidney Baumgarten, Esq.
Former Deputy Mayor, City of New York
Brigadier General, NYG, Retired
Cc: Hoffman Publishing Group

* * *

Mr. Baumgarten's understanding of Mr. Mannes' background conflicts with publicly available information regarding Mr. Mannes' past. To the best of my knowledge and belief, Mr. Mannes' prior background, responsibilities, "intelligence gathering" tactics, access to ABIM diplomate personal information, law-enforcement connections, and salary at ABIM have never been disclosed to ABIM diplomates despite Mr. Mannes' important public role in the organization. Here is the response I sent to Phildelphia Medicine magazine regarding some of the verifiable facts I have found regarding his history (They requested I limit my response to 500 words):
"Contrary to what Sidney Baumgarten, Esq. claims, Ariel Benjamin Mannes does not have a 'fine record of service with the DC police department.' In 2003, Mannes admitted using his access as an officer to obtain Washington reporter Jason Cherkis's personal records and posting the information on a law enforcement website advocating reprisals. The disciplinary board decided unanimously to fire Mannes for conduct unbecoming, but took more than 55 days to notify him.

While on involuntary leave from D.C. Police pending investigation, Mannes began working for the TSA Railroad Division and moonlighted as a bouncer at the “Diva nightclub.” Mannes assaulted a Diva nightclub patron while carrying a loaded unregistered pistol and claiming he was a police officer. Mannes was charged with aggravated assault, impersonating a police officer, and carrying an unregistered firearm.

Per D.C. Court records (felony #006438), Mannes pleaded guilty on December 2005 to two charges from the nightclub incident: (a) impersonating a police officer and (b) carrying an unregistered firearm, and was sentenced to pay fines for each conviction and to probation. He lost his weapon and TSA employment because of this incident.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier was forced to rehire Mannes in November 2008 due solely to the notification issue, but then suspended him. The Department moved again to fire him because of his weapons charge.

Mannes lost his appeal of his two convictions on 10/21/2008, the same year he began working as Director of Test Security for the ABIM.

While at the ABIM, Mannes’ declaration before a federal judge was instrumental for the ABIM to obtain a temporary retraining and seizure order in ABIM’s investigation of the Arora Board Review (ABR) course on December 2, 2009. Mannes, ABIM lawyers, and U.S. Marshals seized materials from Dr. Arora’s home days later. Using emails from Arora’s computers, ABIM retaliated against 139 physicians and sued others and then issued a press release June 9, 2010 accusing physicians of unethical "brain dumping"  before due process could occur.

In summary, Mannes was disciplined by the D.C. Police for abusing his position of authority to access confidential information to retaliate against an innocent citizen. Such conduct was not acceptable to the DC Police, and yet it appears to be acceptable to ABIM while it falsely accuses physicians of acting unethically. ABIM's double standard should be exposed as long as it continues to harm physicians.
These kinds of threats and attempts to discredit me are a dark example of organized medicine's ethics today. It is also a stark example of the tactics members of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) will deploy to control the narrative about them.

I take no joy in disclosing the misdeeds of a fellow human being. While the writer of the letter to Philadelphia Medicine magazine seems to be concerned about his "friend and client" and describes his friend's past employment history as a mere "blip," he misses the point that 139 vulnerable physicians (and thousands more who received "letters of concern") had their entire careers threatened by the ABIM's strongman tactics using his "friend and client's" investigation techniques and connections. Those actions resulted in untold personal and professional anxiety, legal fees, and public humiliation before proper due process could occur. In many cases, physicians were forced to undergo ethics training and pay hefty fines to reinstate their board certification on the basis of the ABIM's felonious employee's carefully organized "investigation" so the leadership of the ABIM could maintain their monopoly, power, and lavish executive lifestyles. To then intimidate a person who tries to disclose the truth via a letter to a medical publication is a last-ditch tactic when there is no ground left to stand on.

Disclosing facts cannot be defined as "pillorying." In addition to the facts I outlined in my response to Mr. Baumgarten, it appears to me that Mr. Mannes used his experience with the Arora Board Review investigation to promote his test security techniques to the board members of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in a course called "Building a Bulletproof Exam Integrity Case: Tools of the Trade" in 2012. Should physicians blindly permit the wanton breach of their civil liberties by individuals with Mr. Mannes' background and connections so other medical certifying boards can also profit using similar techniques?

Mr. Mannes had other conflicts of interest while an employee at ABIM: he worked for the test security firm, Caveon, teaching techniques of "responding to and investigating test-security incidents" to others. Mr. Mannes even created his own corporation, Exam Integrity Services, LLC, in Florida in 2015. How much more profit did Mr. Mannes hope to gain at the expense of ABIM's physician reprisals while working as their employee?

Recently, we have come to learn that the ABIM sued one physician more than two years after the statute of limitations had expired on the 2009 Arora Board Review copyright infringement case that Mr. Mannes investigated under the direction of ABIM officers. The court recently dismissed the claim after the physician (Dr. Salas Rushford) was forced to endure years of stress and expense inflicted by the ABIM. For reasons that are unclear, Mr. Mannes' deposition in that case (for which I serve as an expert witness on behalf of Dr. Salas Rushford) has been kept under seal to the public, yet the deposition of Dr. Salas Rushford has not. Why? It seems the ABIM is an entity that has grown disproportionate authority over physicians without any meaningful accountability or transparency, and which we now see can abuse its power to inflict untold harm against physicians who are trying to serve patients.

How, where, when, and why unaccountable physician certifying bodies can retaliate against or sue physicians by intruding upon their personal property and civil liberties on the basis of an unproven promise of assuring "patient safety and physician quality" is one of society's most delicate and grave decisions. Certainly ABIM knows this but seeks to reduce working physicians' many concerns about their conflicted financial and investigational activities to a name-calling problem. While I admire the cleverness of this strategy, the genie is out of the bottle. Their attempt to make their reality a personal issue against me is deceptive. Tens of thousands of US physicians have my same concerns and want answers from the ABIM and the American Board of Medical Specialties.  In addition, an entire state medical society has issued a vote of no confidence against the ABIM at the House of Delegates meeting in Chicago in June 2016, and the entire House of Delegates voted to end Maintenance of Certification (MOC) on the basis of lack of evidence of the need for MOC and the ABIM's financial and strongman actions. Despite this, the leadership of the American Medical Association has still not ended the ABMS Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program. Consequently, practicing physicians are mobilizing nationwide to enact state-level legislation to end the corrupt MOC program that is tied to hospital credentialing and the ability of physicians to receive insurance payments in many states and, therefore, to practice their trade.

French philosopher Foucault's work on power helps us understand why the physician certification industry, and Maintenance of Certification in particular, is so important to the US medical education system and for policy makers today:
Discipline, according to Foucault’s historical and philosophical analyses, is a form of power that tells people how to act by coaxing them to adjust themselves to what is ‘normal’. It is power in the form of correct training. Discipline does not strike down the subject at whom it is directed, in the way that sovereignty does. Discipline works more subtly, with an exquisite care even, in order to produce obedient people. Foucault famously called the obedient and normal products of discipline ‘docile subjects’.
Mr. Baumgarten's letter and the ABIM's strongman actions demonstate how the overreach of our US physician credentialing system can adversely affect the very people they pretend to protect: physicians and their patients. To limit a physicians' ability to think critically and care autonomously for their patients creates dangerous consequences for both caregivers and their patients. Health care administrators and policy makers would be wise to assure physicians continue to be able to speak independently and on behalf of their patients lest they fall prey to the same forces when they become patients themselves.

It is unacceptable to continue the half-truths and false representations of physician certification (and recertification's) value to our health care system. The ABIM and ABMS must take full accountability for their actions and reform the methods they are willing to employ to assure their revenues at the expense of the personal liberties of practicing physicians and stop using individuals like Mr. Mannes as their strongman and fall guy.

-Wes

33 comments:

  1. Oh Puh-lease!

    Supposed to play nice with B. Mannes? The man is a bully with a wanna-be cop complex.

    Reminder:

    "A. Benjamin Mannes ‏@PublicSafetySME · Dec 16
    A. Benjamin Mannes Retweeted The Hill
    This dirtbag also spent a year on a tear against the medical board so his wife didn't have to pass her boards. #journalisticdisgrace

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  2. Benny Mannes says on his twitter page he misses wearing his uniform in parades. Yeh, I bet. What he doesn't make clear is why he can't wear it anymore.



    A. Benjamin Mannes‏ @PublicSafetySME

    I miss having a uniform to march in the NYC parade in. Happy #StPatricksDay to all!!
    6:30 AM - 17 Mar 2017

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  3. A great deal more flesh and color has just surfaced with the emergence of Sidney Baumgarten, Esquire, to the ABMS' interstate crime scene.

    One more powerful personality - and the special interests he represents - appears to be trying to chill free speech, a free press and the right to assemble. When is this bullying and strong-arming going to stop?

    Is this a threat in order to block the truth from being revealed. It makes me wonder what else they are hiding. Is the ABIM and ABMS throwing their legal weight around when they find it difficult to speak about transgressions that are impossible for them to admit.

    Is this Dr. Rich Baron's way of responding to the last publication on MOC where he declined to respond to Drs. Fisher, Cutler, and the rest of the PA Medical Society that gave a vote of no confidence to the ABIM.

    Isn't Baumgarten's letter also an intimidation attempt aimed at the AMA House of Delegates?

    Conflicts of interest and the law

    Did Baumgarten disclose his conflicts of interest in the medical industry with a disclaimer? He did not. Nor did he inform readers of his actual contractual status with Mr. Mannes. Is Mr. Mannes an established client under contract with Baumgarten, or is Sidney acting as a pro-bono counsel.

    Is Dr. Baron, the ABIM or any of its associates an established client?
    Is Sidney acting as a friend of Mannes or ramrod for powerful political and corporate entities?

    How many New York State Attorney's Codes has Sidney Baumgarten potentially violated by writing this letter?

    New York State Lawyers Code
    https://www.nysba.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=26638

    Like Mannes, Sydney Baumgarten has a colorful history. In June of 1994 his right to practice law was suspended. His suspension was through October of 1997.

    On October of 1997 Ariel Benjamin's friend was disbarred. In November of 2005 he was reinstated. During this time you can ask Mr. Baumgaren what industry he worked in and what titles he held. It would be good if Sidney held up for scientific inspection some of the medical articles and publications bearing his name.

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  4. New York State takes action against Sidney Baumgarten

    "On June 2, 1994, we granted the motion of the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for an order pursuant to 22 NYCRR 603.4(e)(1)(ii) and (iii) suspending respondent from the practice of law based upon substantial admissions under oath that he committed serious acts of professional misconduct, and upon other uncontroverted evidence of professional misconduct (Matter of Baumgarten, 197 A.D.2d 309, 613 N.Y.S.2d 361).   Respondent has now been suspended for over three years.

    Respondent was served with a Notice and Statement of Charges in which it was alleged that he violated Disciplinary Rules 1-102(A)(4) and (7) [now (8) ], 6-101(A)(3) and 9-102(A), (B) and (C)(4) of the Lawyer's Code of Professional Responsibility, by intentionally converting client funds, commingling client funds, failing to return promptly client funds as requested by the client, fraudulently attempting to hide personal funds from creditors and making misrepresentations to a client concerning the status of the client's escrow funds.   Respondent filed an answer to the charges denying all of the charges except for part of Charge One, where respondent admitted that he did not maintain separate escrow and business accounts."

    And then there was 1989

    Prior to his suspension and disbarment, Baumgarten was admonished by the board on March 28, 1989 based upon violations of DR 6-101(A)(2) and (3), DR 5-105(B), DR 5-101(A) and 5-104(A).

    What else is there to hold the ABIM and ABMS to account except a free press, free speech and the right to assemble? Is the ABIM through its agents still trying to chill civil liberties?

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  5. Dr. Baron,

    Has the ABIM just hired yet another adviser of dubious history and repute to threaten a physician advocate/reporter and shut down an investigation. Are Mr. Mannes and Dr. Baron attempting to chill free speech and freedom of the press. It is noteworthy that Mr. Mannes, ABIM's "director of investigations" was under the employ of Dr. Baron and the ABIM at the time of the writing of Mr. Baumgarten's apparent letter of intimidation. Or was it a publication attempt to defame Dr. Westby Fisher and deceive the public? This story is getting more and more interesting all the time.

    This attempt to shut down freedom of the press and speech is an example of the very same ting that Ariel Benjamin Mannes was what was made infamous for in 2003 when he was according to the record fired from the DC Metro Police. Whether there was a procedural error or whether a clerk acting willfully or under intimidation, the facts stand that Mannes has a history of aggravated assault on American citizens'civil liberties.
    This cannot be tolerated and those who erred or aided and abetted in these assaults on privacy, speech, and press must investigated and held to account.

    Mannes was allowed to skate and look what happened, he progressed from assualt on civil liberties to aggravated assault, impersonation of a police officer, and having a lethal firearm in his possession which was pulled out of concealment to threaten people without lawful authority to do so. Pull a concealed gun out on a busy street in DC and point it at people in a threatening manner it is not a small matter for a six-foot three 230 lb. man to terrorize a nightclub crowd that way. And in fact with the patriot act and enhanced counter-terrorism laws in place, it is even more of a crime to terroize citizens at any time of the day or night. Think Orlando gay bar where so many were slaughtered. The preponderance of victims were from Puerto Rico.
    Mr. Mannes has made citizens of this country repeatedly feel unsafe. In fact, he has repeatedly terrorized innocent citizens. A fuller investigation of Mr. Mannes record and disciplinary actions is definitely in order. I want the FBI to investigate as they should objectively to reconsider Mannes involvement with InfraGard. He does not belong there and the public cannot trust him regardless of how many powerful allies he has by his side. It reeks of power and abuse of that privilege.

    These recommendations I make are not a result of anything Dr. Fisher has written. I personally have examined Mannes' scandalous activities and roles at the ABIM and I feel threatened by such a man in charge of my records, data, or sensitive business and personal information. I feel vulnerable.

    This is serious. Unless our medical boards and law enforcement leadership cleans up its own ranks better, none of us is safe. It is scary that they have let so many offenders fall through the cracks, or get propped up and dusted off by powerful friends who use intimidation and threat as their goad.

    I really know nothing about you or your intentions either, Dr. Baron. I don't know any of the people who work for the medical boards. Sorry, but I just don't trust any of you anymore! This letter from a frightening New York attorney that has an equally untrustworthy past is intolerable. No one gets it there what you are doing. It's all a show without substance.

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  6. He is a CONVICTED FELON and has no business working for/ar/with the ABIM - PERIOD!

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  7. Wow, must be nice to be able to recover your career after being suspended and then disbarred. We've evidently made it pretty easy on lawyers and God knows we sure need everyone of them we can get, Huh?

    How many Physicians ever recover from failing their board recertification? We will never know because the ABIM is not concerned about the outcomes of their psychometric babble babble on the physician work force and physician well being. But who needs doctors when we have such fine examples of upstanding lawyers.

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  8. I like absurdity of the comment that Hippocrates would blush. First of all,
    Hippocrates would say that the only important thing is patient fidelity which
    none of the Boards seem to care about. Luckily after passing my third EM Board
    they decided it would be unsafe for us old timers to sit at a test yet again and fall over. So we are Lifetime - at age 74. Hippocrates would have said strict adherence to patient ethics is what we need to test. And the AMA has no Oath. Harvard tells each class to write their own. He would have retched not blushed.
    Chuck Phillips, MD cphil49401@aol.com

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  9. Fact checking the fact checking:
    Mr Mannes was, as he claims in his Linkedin CV employed by the DC police force (1999-2009) when his dual convictions occurred. In the middle of his employment 2005. Mannes was in fact living/residing in Virginia at the time according to records and other employment history. We found no evidence of residence in New York. Perhaps one of Ballard Spahr's attorneys can clarify Mannes situation in all of its facets and Dr. Baron can elucidate us. Donna Campbell the former human resource director for ABIM could clarify the vetting process for us and provide documents as we seem to have a powerful attorney threatening a triple-boarded diplomate. It does fall on the ABIM, their executives and legal team to resolve this for the public and all the 950,000 diplomates who may have been affected by the ABMS employing a double felon that may or may not have been vetted properly. We think that it is also appropriate to ask for residency proof during the time of conviction in New York. New York does not allow for capricious abuse of its Certificate of Relief from Disabilities application process. New York State must follow the law to the letter. It may have been fraudulently filed and obtained. It would be appropriate for Mr. Mannes to give a notarized facsimile copy to his counsel/friend to pass on to the diplomates and general patient audience who follows this blog.

    Below is the pertinent passage which a New York attorney guided me to online. I believe that from what the public records show Mr. Sidney Baumgarten has misinformed the readers of the medical magazine about the relevancy of the Certificate of Relief from Disabilities. Sid did not supply a facsimile of the New York document either as Westby G. Fisher kindly did throughout his investigatory article. Mr. Baumgarten could supply in a follow up conversation documents which support his position.

    "12. Can a New York State court grant a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities to an
    individual convicted of a felony in another state, who later relocates and is
    transferred to New York State for supervision?
    No. However, Correction Law §703(1)(b) states the Board of Parole shall have the
    power to issue a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities to any eligible offender who resides
    within the state while convicted by a court in another jurisdiction."

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  10. what a bunch of thugs! Good investigative job Wes

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  11. You are making an impact. There is an opinion piece in Forbes this week regarding excessive testing. Maybe policymakers will better understand the adverse impacts of these organisations.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2017/03/19/stop-wasting-doctors-time-and-resources-by-overtesting-them/#5a49905b1f68

    Thank you Dr Wes.

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  12. Mark Twain said, "If their friends are liars and looters, one can generally assume they are liars and looters too."

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  13. This story is very disturbing to me also, so I called the NY Appellate Court at 646-386-5893 to verify what was written here about New York State Attorney, Sidney Baumgarten. The clerk seemed hesitant or embarrassed to read the public record for Baumgarten, Mr. Mannes' legal representative.

    Sidney Baumgarten was accepted to practice law in New York on 03/02/61. There is record of a suspension starting June, 1994 on record through October, 1997. That same month he was disbarred October, 1997. Baumgarten did not get his license to practice back again until November of 2005. No details were provided. For complaints the clerk told me that he could put me through to another number.

    This was more than a blip in Baumgarten's career, it was a blimp.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ny-supreme-court-appellate-division/1481643.html

      "On June 2, 1994, we granted the motion of the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for an order pursuant to 22 NYCRR 603.4(e)(1)(ii) and (iii) suspending respondent from the practice of law based upon substantial admissions under oath that he committed serious acts of professional misconduct, and upon other uncontroverted evidence of professional misconduct (Matter of Baumgarten, 197 A.D.2d 309, 613 N.Y.S.2d 361).   Respondent has now been suspended for over three years.

      Respondent was served with a Notice and Statement of Charges in which it was alleged that he violated Disciplinary Rules 1-102(A)(4) and (7) [now (8) ], 6-101(A)(3) and 9-102(A), (B) and (C)(4) of the Lawyer's Code of Professional Responsibility, by intentionally converting client funds, commingling client funds, failing to return promptly client funds as requested by the client, fraudulently attempting to hide personal funds from creditors and making misrepresentations to a client concerning the status of the client's escrow funds.   Respondent filed an answer to the charges denying all of the charges except for part of Charge One, where respondent admitted that he did not maintain separate escrow and business accounts."

      -XC

      Delete
  14. Imagine this...a formerly disgraced/disbarred attorney effusively renders praise upon a strong arm thug who happens to be a convicted felon. While simultaneously engaged in an inept character assassination attempt against a well respected cardiac electrophysiologist- cum- investigative reporter, who has tenaciously picked up the sword against Goliath. Truth stranger than fiction. If Hippocrates is blushing, then Draco must surely be in severe gastrointestinal distress.
    An ad hominum attack in defense of a felon? How pathetic. Referring to Mr. Mannes's lawbreaking antics as a 'blip' is a whitewash. A cheap euphemism to distort the realities of the crime. So transparent as to call into question the veracity of any argument that follows. There is no landfill large enough to hold the Counselor's verbage.
    On the other hand, Mr. Mannes's association with the ABIM is quite natural and fitting. A...let me repeat...a convicted felon working with an organization that has evolved into a core-corrupted entity. Run by a cohort that should be held accountable for actions that rise far above the the level of a mere 'blip'.
    So now, the ABIM and its henchmen have set their sights directly on Wes Fisher. They should know of the groundswell of support that exists for him. Mr. Baumgarten appears to be leading the charge of a contentious new PR campaign designed to confound and intimidate one of the ABIM's most articulate and outspoken critics.
    One can only speculate as to the ongoings of the ABIM strategy sessions led by Herr Doktor Richard Baron in his besieged bunker. I do not take the present proxy actions as originating from a position of strength. Rather, I smell the blood of a wounded predator.
    Wes, keep up the good fight. And know that there are tens of thousands of us who stand behind you.

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  15. It appears to me, Dr Westby Fisher's overriding interest and passion in reporting on healthcare is to bring clarity and a voice of reason to the insanity that has led to the many serious issues that exist.

    As a practicing physician he sees the glaring stumbling blocks for physicians that the ABIM and ABMS imposes on the entire healthcare system.

    The ABMS medical boards through its Chicago-based umbrella organization and key partners have achieved a steady unlawful revenue stream by colluding with other lucrative NGOs acting together as partners in a financially conflicted corrupt system.

    There are more than mere hints of usury, political abuse, and financial corruption in the quality assurance industry; there are troublesome unruly creatures eating alive the healthcare system. They must be ferreted out.

    The healthcare industry has a cancerous brood growing, resisting treatment.

    Healthcare has been plagued by this rat-infested colonization -- the systematic growth of dozens of filthy nests that overpopulate the quality assurance industry. We are at the end-stage where bloating in the host gut is destroying the healthcare delivery system.

    We have seen the march and rise to power of NGOs like the ABIM over the past several decades. The money they extract and the power they wield is unnerving and frightening.

    As an advocate for change and patient/physician rights, Wes is pulling a heavy load. This letter of Baumgarten is obviously a threat from the well-organized opposition to the ani-MOC movement. Otherwise Baumgarten would not have tried to put the squeeze on Fisher's candid position.

    Men like Mr. Mannes and Baumgarten are hired -- paid or get some marketable favors in order to help ABIM resist ethical practice/law and order in the quality assurance industry.

    It is most shocking that the opposing force to changing the corrupt system is coming from two men who put out a shingle saying they are moral men dedicated to "law and order".

    If so, then there is something infirm in the criminal justice system also. There is the odor of mob-like practice. How could the Philadelphia Medical Society allow such a letter to go to print?

    How dare Dr. Nora accept the putrid presence of such men associating themselves with the ABMS umbrella and speaking for Dr. Baron and the rest of the executives and officers of the ABIM. Where is the voice of outrage from Baron and Nora when a triple-boarded physicians is attacked. Where is the denouncement of that which these men have done and represent.

    Did Sidney Baumgarten, Mannes legal counsel, advise Christine Cassel, Rich Baron, Eric Holmboe, Bob Wacther Ariel B. Mannes, and the others to mount the ABIM's "terror attacks" on thousands of physicians, thus sending the clear message that all physicians voices and free speech was to be chilled? And all rights with it!

    Nothing substantial by the ABMS is ever said. Only well crafted propaganda.

    Silence of the executive lambs has allowed time to eat through the thin veneer of their golden standard.


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  16. That was incredibly clever of disgraced, fraudulent Sidney Baumgarten, Esq. to write this pathetic screed in defense of disgraced, fraudulent ABIM Felon Goon Squad Chief Ariel Benjamin Mannes. There could not be better way to highlight the depths to which ABIM has sunk with their sordid tactics to run over anyone suspected of interfering with their self-serving mission to protect their choke hold on 200,000 Internists and IM subspecialists.

    How could anyone be so dumb as to write such a deliberately obtuse defense of a completely indefensible individual without recognizing that their own credibility and integrity would be thoroughly and easily checked? I agree with commenter W.O.R.M. above, this move smacks of severe desperation.

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  17. I believe Wes wants to preserve freedom of the press and free speech more than anything else. He has no ill intent and has played very fair, better than the mainstream guys.

    Wes has not abused Mr. Mannes rights, but on the contrary, Mr. Mannes working for the ABIM and their special interest stakeholders, demolished with a wrecking ball the civil liberties of all Americans. The ABIM with their illicit deeds set an unfair precedent that says to the nation and the world, that if you are rich and politically powerful you can step on the rights of the financially and politically vulnerable.

    They chose as their key target an old man who was of a religious and ethnic minority. Cassel and Baron put their hidden asset to work. Mannes with his terrorist-spotting CATeyes put his bead on the Hindu physician Rajender K. Arora. There was no attorney there allowed to scream on Rajender's behalf in the early morning hours as he, his wife and family slept. It was then when Mannes, aka CATeyes, Harah Jacobs, ABIM and hired federal marshals literally forced their way into his private property taking whatever they wanted, touching what they liked however sacred to the inhabitants of that house.

    The terror-fighters have become the terrorists unleashed against innocent civilians. Dr. Arora was not a criminal. Why was he made to appear so? The press slaughtered him and the other physicians who shared questions from multiple sources, not just his. The ABIM is not the federal government. They are a pathetic little testing company that somehow grew powerful legal reach and claws.

    How and why did that "voluntary certification service" create for itself a powerful financial empire with a ready-made political and judicial protection racket to cover its back?

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  18. Baumgarten's unbelievable letter raises more questionsFri Mar 24, 06:36:00 PM CDT

    If the journalistic process exposes Baron's agents and what they are doing, people like Ben Mannes, who is in fact a double-felon, so be it.

    Sid lied about the felony convictions. Why? The history is there. He was even present to some of the criminal proceedings. What does he have to do with all this. What does he have to prove or hide? Is Mannes a friend or is Mannes a client that is being used? To what end?

    Fact: After pleading the assault charges away in a bargain with a DC prosecutor, Mannes was convicted on two of his three felonies.

    What about the statement that Mannes only had one felony made by Sid? If through some unethical/illicit attorney's trick, Mannes in fact filed a "NY Relief from Disabilities" application it was a false action.

    You cannot fill in the form as a non-resident. Period. You cannot back-pedal your way to residency from years ago.

    Mannes felonies were committed and tried in DC when he was a resident of Virginia. He was not a resident of New York State at the time of the crime and court proceedings and you cannot make a form valid like that either retroactively or going back eight or more years when you were a resident of New York. But with the help of Sid Baumgarten maybe you can get someone to ignore the rules or get them bend them in order to cheat.

    If so, we have the first confession of a crime by an attorney ever published in medical journal.

    Is the letter directed at Dr. Fisher an admission of Sid's complicity in obtaining a piece of "legal paper" from a state where Mannes did not and does not reside. Wow! That is so intricately deceptive. The whole letter comprised of a clever series of paragraphs moved from lie to lie explaining how Mr Mannes was "greased" through the cracks in an otherwise closed door.

    The InfraGard governorship is suspicious and quite troubling. There are many possibilities to abuse that position. Security business advertising, real estate deals, spying on competitors, gaining access to business as a trusted partner, the list is endless.

    With Mannes track record of abusing civil liberties and privacy it should haunt anyone with their personal information in the ABMS data base. It should trouble anyone who lives in the environs of Philadelphia.

    I understand that there may be technicalities which in certain cases the state can reduce two felonies into one, but only if you were a resident of New York. If you filed a false form as a resident when you were not legally a resident, what does that mean about your honesty? If you cheat like that and get caught, welcome to the land of felonious intent and you are a felon all over again.

    How many applications and certifications did Mannes pull a similar stunt on. How about with InfraGard? We have a potential compounding of lie after lie on applications.

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  19. Ed Rico and Worm raise some very important issues

    Some thoughts and questions on whether Baumgarten helped Mannes cheat the system for some reason. I supect we have much more beneath the surface. It is like peering into the underworld of crime and how criminal minds think.

    Was Baumgarten really a friend or more of a business partner -- agents of lucrative industries like healthcare. Or perhaps something else associated with the ABIM's love for investing in hedge funds, creating offshore accounts, and investing in real estate.

    We need further investigation of the matter

    If Ben and Sid did this thing together, then that is another act of potential fraud that should and must be investigated by appropriate authorities and credentialing agencies.

    Fact: New York State law prohibits claiming New York residency in order to fraudulently obtain any benefits of the state of New York. Mannes did not have a NY State driver's license. So my question is, who besides, Sid, helped him?

    This is a can of worms that Sid opened for Mannes by writing this threatening letter. It was quite a blunder and may have spilled open the pinata for investigators curious about what a guy like Mannes is doing at the ABIM and InfraGard.

    Sidney and others may have propped up Mannes and groomed him for their own purposes in a tit for tat exchange. If so, they are using the most classic trick in the book -- propping Mannes up with the coat of respectability and putting him in positions of power and influence. ABIM even put him through school and paid for a management degree program.

    Someone else helped Mannes' wife become an aid to a state representative involved in Philadelphia development and planning. There have been far too many Wall Street types managing ABIM lately. And far too many politicians from Philadelphia's city government as "chiefs of staff". Something is up more than just my hackles.

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  20. Wes is just one man doing the work of an army of journalists in his spare time.

    Now the ABIM is attacking him just like they did that Newsweek reporter. Unbelievable!

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  21. What in the devil's name is this company all about and why is Baumgarten involved with it.
    Alfaysal or faisal means the arbiter of good and evil!
    https://www.company-detail.com/company-alfaysal-consulting-ltd-4937512

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  22. When I type in A. Benjamin Mannes name on Google, why do I keep getting John Taylor 177th District Penn Landing Development Project?

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  23. "Judge Arrested Over Spat During Traffic Stop in NW

    By Henri E. Cauvin
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, March 8, 2005; Page B02
    A D.C. Superior Court judge was arrested over the weekend after she refused to return to her car during a traffic stop by a police officer in Northwest Washington.

    The judge, Susan R. Winfield, was handcuffed late Sunday morning and taken to the 4th District police headquarters, where she was released after paying a $75 fine for failing to obey an order -- a low-level misdemeanor that carries no jail time, according to authorities.

    Winfield, a 20-year veteran of the bench, is a former assistant U.S. attorney who generally is popular with police and prosecutors. Yesterday, she said that the arrest was enormously "embarrassing."

    "I kept saying I should have stayed in the car," she said."

    Did Mannes get a break because his judge favored cops and prosecutors. Judge Susan R. Winfield was arrested (eight months prior to Mannes' "little blip") for not following a police officers instructions to get back in her car. The judge was going double maximum speed in a work zone.

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  24. This has to be one of the most surreal moments since Wes broke the story with the $2.3M ABIM condo.
    How on Earth is a defrocked, corrupt, slimy trial attorney apt to skim his client's money a character witness for a convicted felon ex-DC cop? Robin Williams once joked that an example of a bad idea is hiring Charles Manson as a male nurse.

    Hiring Baumgarten as the author attesting to your moral fiber is insane and ludicrous. In all fairness, this ABIM thug, Mannes, probably has some good things about him that just are not that visible. However, the optics of this entire ABIM spectacle is nauseatingly corrupt. Now that Rich Baron et al are about to feel the pain of the Salas countersuit, the table have been turned. There is NO DOUBT, they will lose their case in Newark NJ. A trial jury will make the ABIM pay dearly for their transgressions and it will personally cost Baron, Langdon, Cassel, many millions of dollars to make Dr. Salas whole again.

    ABIM needs to cut their losses and someone in this dysfunctional organization needs to think continuing to try to mud wrestle with its constituency. Despite their delusional thuggish tactics, they have lost handily to those of us who are committed to being doctors.

    And they will continue to lose. Just look at their increasingly blood red spreadsheet. Just awful.

    This story will have a second chapter. This will involve a clarion call for those of us who are proud of our profession and want the ABIM to be functionally robust. It will involve rewriting the Operational Agreement. It will involve opening this organization to an open election process by the Diplomates. It will involve absolute and utter financial transparency. It will mandate fiscal modesty and a oath to the disenfranchised residents and fellows who are compelled to give the ABIM lots of money. It will involve transforming the ABIM from a selfish, narrow minded, ugly, cohort of stubborn kleptocrats hell bent on torturing their peers to one with a friendly, reputable, honest organization whose mission is to magnify the work of the Diplomates and not to diminish it.

    Chapter one is ending....

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  25. Baumgarten uses the accomplishments of his children to amplify his profile. And despite his involvement with reputable organizations it didn't stop him from his issues with a client's funds and an escrow account. Perhaps, he can comment on his disciplinary action on his website as much as he trumpets his military career.

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  26. Nothing exposes a villain more than the words and deeds of a villain obsessed with the outcome of his own villainy.

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  27. Is the former "vice mayor" of New York, Esquire Sidney Baumgarten, threatening journalists, publishers, medical societies, medical contributors, thousands of physicians Mannes and the ABIM slammed against the wall without disclosure of his serious felonies and police record! Is Colonel Sid B. also personally threatening anti-MOC advocates, civil liberties activists, privacy advocates, all the victims of ABMS financial and political persecution?

    Colonel Baumgarten writes:

    "To put it bluntly. Mr. Mannes is being unfairly pilloried to serve Dr. Fisher’s own differences with the ABIM. It is especially unseemly for the member of a highly respected profession to undertake the willful destruction of another human being for his own motives. Mr. Mannes has worked extremely hard over the last 11 years to undo the unfortunate incidents of one night and surely does not deserve to have his family, friends, and colleagues read disparaging, inaccurate things about him in the pages of your publication. I am sure Hippocrates would blush.

    Sincerely,

    Sidney Baumgarten, Esq.
    Former Deputy Mayor, City of New York
    Brigadier General, NYG, Retired
    Cc: Hoffman Publishing Group"

    Tracy Hoffman was Ccd in this insane threatening action. Why? The Hoffman Group is a niche market publications development company.
    http://www.hoffmannpublishing.com/about/

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  28. ABIM v ABR (Drs Arora and Kachadourian) and John Does 50

    Such heinous violatory acts inflicted on physicians based on the declarations of Christine Cassel, Hara Jacobs, Rebecca Baranowski, and Ariel Benjamin Mannes were wrong, unconstitutional and overreaching.

    What was recently discovered about ABIM's vicious, malicious and willful attacks on Dr. Salas Rushford persecuting him for five years may prove to be grounds for many other physicians to file lawsuits against the ABIM.

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  29. Mr. Sidney Baumgartner wrote:

    "As you can see, the one incident revealed nothing that would even suggest any form of dishonesty of[or?] other reason for the ABIM to reject his services. Mr. Mannes’ position was designed with a myriad of checks and balances and his casework, to include the one cited in your publication, have been upheld in courts of law on numerous occasions. Mr. Mannes is a consummate professional, active in the federal and local security community, who has made the appropriate disclosures in both his pre-employment background check at ABIM and the vetting process for appointments he has held since, to include his elected Governorship at Infragard, a public private partnership coordinated by the FBI."

    Could Dr. Richard Baron, Christine Cassel, and the ABIM board of directors please explain to the public what Mr. Baumgarten means when he states "Mr. Mannes' position was designed with a myriad of checks and balances?" What were these checks and balances and how did it happen that the position "director of investigations" and who was filling that position for nearly nine years was not publicly disclosed? And if there was a need for Mr. Mannes and his position to have myriads of checks and balances, why was not such important checks and balances regarding employment, and the reasons for any such employment stipulations not disclosed to the public. But more importantly why was this not disclosed to the courts where his "casework has been upheld in courts of law on numerous occasions." On what occasions was Mr. Mannes casework scrutinized or questioned by the courts to the degree that a judge had to "uphold" his testimony? Can Mr. Baumgarten give us some concreteness and specificity on these points? Supply the documents, court cases and judges involved.

    Extremely troubling is the next statement by Esquire Baumgarten that Mr. Mannes "has made the appropriate disclosures in both his pre-employment background check at ABIM and the vetting process for appointments he has held since, to include his elected Governorship at Infragard." Considering that Mr. Baumgarten has gone to such great pain to mention pre-employment and vetting processes, he must be privy to the documents and may have been part of the processes at the ABIM, InfraGard, and various supportive certifications that all might find it difficult to hire a convicted felon with a history of three felony charges (two convictions) and being fired from the Metro Police Department in the District of Columbia for violatory acts against a journalist's first amendment rights. What ABMS affiliated medical board or FBI affiliated corporation involved in accessing countless files of sensitive professional, personal and commercial data would allow such a person to be hired without a manipulation or whitewashing of the facts and real data such as Mr. Baumgarten's letter illustrates?

    Could Dr. Baron, the board of directors and the current Director of Human Services at the ABIM/ABIMF, Ms. Judi Cassel, please explain to us the vetting process in full detail and give the reasons and circumstances behind the past Human Resource Director's departure from the ABIM about the same time that Mr. Baumgarten's letter was written? Why was the departure of Donna L. Campbell (HR Director) not announced in a press release? Ms. Campbell held two certifications in Human Resources. Ms. Cassel is not certified in HR at all. Why was J Cassel suddenly hired as chief of staff (triple roles, ethics director also) without the proper press release announcing Suzanne Biemiller's termination from that position.

    Biemiller was previously chief of staff to Philly Mayor Nutter, worked on Philly land use development projects, acted as fundraiser for PA politicos, and was active in the privatization of the Philadelphia Gas Works. ABIM never disclosed her departure or that Biemiller's husband is a high ranking executive for Glaxo Smith Kline.

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  30. ABIM now has now admitted via a proxy letter yet another scandal regarding total disregard for transparency with the hiring of a convicted felon to spy on and strong arm physicians. They even created a whole new position and office for Mr. Mannes called the "director of investigations". ABIM did not inform the public.

    In a free democratic society where checks and balances are vital to ensure our constitutional guarantees and privacy, how can a private business with consolidated revenues and assets of $160 million dollars a year, not see fit to reveal their "director of investigations and the office of investigations. That is like if our government suddenly became overnight without telling anyone a secret society engaged in intelligence gather operations with the power to sanction, prosecute and punish without citizens being fully informed or having due process. This means there is NO chance for the people (taxpayers) to elect executives and officers. But the ABIM is ot a government or even a regulatory body. It's a business. But it acts like an out of control authoritarian regime.

    So, instead of a voluntary certification with a "business" we have a secret society creating a faux government, tax system, with paid political activists an police state to enforce it all funded with dark money, which is accountable to no one.

    The 990 tax filing have no mention of ABIM's felonious office of investigations director cum FBI NGO affiliate governor. And we don't know who or what special interests that felon might really serve. Mr. Baumgarten, a lawyer disbarred in the passed for conflicts of interests and fraud. Sidney Baumgarten has just filled us in with some of the blanks.

    I would like DR. Baron to fill us in on the rest of the story.

    When did CEO/President Richard Baron, CoS Judi Cassel, CMO Richard G. Battaglia, CoS Suzanne Biemiller, DoI Mr. Mannes, CFO Mr. Vincent J. Mandes and the full ABIM board of directors and trustees first start discussing/trying to clean up this scandal associated with hiring the convicted felon Mannes and when did they first learn of learn of Mr. Baumgarten?

    When did ABIM insurers and their underwriters find out about ABIM's liability issues regarding the potential concealment of facts from them concerning Mr. Ariel Benjamin Mannes history of violatory acts, firings and felonies. I'm curious to know how many sources of employment and income Mr. Mannes had while employed with the ABIM? How long did the District of Columbia pay him for being a police officer? (1999-2009) What federally funded projects were General/Colonel Baumgarten and Mannes involved in together. What private ventures or future business plans.

    What correspondence or personal contact has Sidney Baumgarten had with the ABIM and when did this relationship begin?

    Has Mr. Baumgarten influenced the ABIM in any of its actions either directly or through an agent such as Mr. Mannes, or any other employees, contractors, government officials, the court, or advisors including ABIM's attorneys?

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  31. What the ABIM, Mr. Mannes and Sid Baumgarten have done is totally fraudulent.

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  32. DC court records referenced by Dr. Wes above document that Sidney Baumgarten was admitted as pro hac vice counsel for Ariel Benjamin Mannes April 2008 in the matter of Mannes' failed appeal of his two felony convictions, so of all people, Baumgarten knows exactly what transpired in this case.

    Despite Mr. Baumgarten's clumsy attempt at whitewashing his friend/client's checkered past, he was no more successful at convincing the DC Court with his revisionist history than he was in convincing the members of the Philadelphia County Medical Society and Philadelphia Medicine Magazine.

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