DOC IN THE BOX: U.S. Attorney General Holder failed to disclose his relationship to a Georgia building used by a now-convicted abortion doctor.
By Will Swaim | Watchdog.org
A Georgia physician who performed abortions in a building owned by the wife of U.S. attorney general Eric Holder was sentenced to prison March 21 for Medicaid fraud.
“DeKalb Superior Court Judge C. J. Becker sentenced Tyrone Cecil Malloy, M.D., to four years in prison and six years’ probation on two counts of Medicaid Fraud,” according to a news release from the office of Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. “Malloy was found guilty by a jury on both counts of the indictment on March 10, 2014, following a two-week trial.”
“Malloy was the owner of Old National Gynecology, a medical practice devoted to the performance of first-trimester elective abortions,” the state AG’s office said. “Federal funds may not be used to pay for abortions and services associated with abortions, except in circumstances under which the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest or circumstances under which continuation of the pregnancy would endanger the life of the mother. The Georgia Medicaid program is supported by state and federal tax dollars. For several years, Malloy engaged in a scheme to defraud Georgia Medicaid by billing for office visits associated with abortions and for ultrasound procedures (that) were never performed. In total, he fraudulently billed Georgia Medicaid for over $386,000.”
Documents obtained by Watchdog show that, through a family trust, Holder’s wife and sister-in-law co-own the building where Malloy operated. A Georgia grand jury indicted Malloy on Medicaid fraud charges in 2011. A state medical board has twice reprimanded the doctor.
Critics say Holder’s personal interest in the clinic may be related to his eagerness to prosecute pro-life advocates who counsel women outside abortion clinics.
Holder and his wife, Sharon Malone Holder, an obstetric and gynecological doctor at Foxhall OB/GYN in Washington, D.C., failed to respond to several requests for comment.
But reached by phone in October at her home in Minneapolis, Margie Malone Tuckson, Holder’s sister-in-law, told Watchdog there’s no link at all — that Fulton County tax records showing the property belongs to her and Holder’s wife “are wrong.”
“I don’t own this property and my sister does not own this property. We are not technically on this deed,” Malone Tuckson said.
Catherine Davis, a founding member of the National Black Prolife Coalition and president and founder of The Restoration Project — a Stone Mountain, Ga.-based pro-life, pro-family organization — said she was outraged by revelations of ties between Holder and Malloy.
“There is a clear conflict of interest when the man charged with pursuing those that abuse the system is also one who is engaged in some way with the business,” said Davis, whose organization brought the issue to the attention of Watchdog last year.
Holder’s financial disclosure reports for 2008 through 2012 show he did not report his wife’s co-ownership, through a family trust, of the building where Malloy practiced, located in the Atlanta suburb of College Park.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch in Washington, D.C., said he was “surprised there is this trust out there and (Holder) hasn’t reported it.”
“It looks to me like the sort of thing that should be disclosed. If he and his spouse are gaining income off this trust, generally that would be subject to disclosure,” Fitton said. “I mean, if you have an ownership interest, you get the income. You may not be making the day-to-day decisions about the investments, but you are certainly benefiting from them.”
Dana Cody, an attorney and the president and executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life legal defense organization in Napa, Calif., agreed that Holder should have “disclosed any financial interest he had in the abortion industry.”
Under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, high-level federal officials are required to “disclose publicly their personal financial interests to ensure confidence in the integrity of the federal government by demonstrating that they are able to carry out their duties without compromising the public trust.”
The law further requires disclosure of the “holdings of and income from the holdings of any trust, estate, investment fund or other financial arrangement from which income is received by, or with respect to which a beneficial interest in principal or income is held by, the filer, his spouse, or dependent child.”
Those found violating the law face penalties ranging from criminal and civil fines to imprisonment, according to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. This includes fines of up to $50,000 and a maximum of a year imprisonment, if the nondisclosure was done willfully, according to the OGE.
Like any area of the law, this one is subject to interpretation, and some experts said it was possible to argue that the family trust is constructed in a way that allows Holder to deny any interest.
That explanation didn’t fly with Cody and others, however.
“Assuming for the sake of argument that he was not required to do so, or wasn’t aware he was required to do so, to avoid an appearance of any wrongdoing, he should have been forthcoming and disclosed the interests his wife holds in the building where (the doctor) operated an abortion clinic,” Cody said.
Michael Norton, the former U.S. attorney in the District of Colorado and senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, also agreed Holder should have disclosed the property in his financial disclosure reports.
“It was not proper for him to not disclose his interests in the building co-owned by his wife,” Norton said. “It appears to me to be a conflict of interest that should have been disclosed and, in all candor, requires Mr. Holder to recuse himself from matters of this nature.”
Interestingly, though he did not disclose his connection to the abortion practice, Holder did disclose his wife’s ownership of a D.C.-area medical practice and her pension.
Even if Holder should have disclosed the relationship, some argued that Holder’s interest in the family trust doesn’t constitute a formal conflict of interest.
Bob Stern, the former general counsel for the California Fair Political Practices Commission and the former president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, said he disagreed that Holder’s wife’s interest in the property constitutes a conflict of interest.
“They are accusing him of bias, not legal conflicts,” Stern said. “There is clearly no legal conflict. The only conflict question would be whether he was considering the case of the doctor, but even that is questionable. It’s a state case, not a federal case. There seems to be no conflict questions.”
Fitton agreed Holder’s interest in the property isn’t a conflict of interest.
“I don’t think he has a conflict of interest,” Fitton said. “When it comes to the prosecution of pro-life counselors, contrary to the First Amendment, Eric Holder doesn’t need a financial interest to do that. He’s an ideologue.”
Additional reporting by Troy Anderson.