On January 6, 2021, an angry mob of domestic terrorists stormed the United States capital with the intent to stop the certification of the electoral college votes that made Joseph R. Biden the 46th president of the United States. They also sought to find and assassinate the Vice-President, the Speaker of the House and other liberal members of Congress who had been shepherded to secure locations. The mob was motivated by lies propagated by then President Donald Trump and his supporters that the election had been stolen and that he had actually won reelection in a landslide. Hours later, after the mob was dispersed and the halls of Congress secured, the Senate and House of Representatives returned to the task of certifying the results of the election. Even after the events earlier in the day that resulted in the death of a capital police officer, 147 Republican members of Congress voted to object to the certification of the election results, in effect, endorsing a coup led by the defeated President and his enablers. On January 11, 2021, the New York Times published a story documenting the Fortune 500 companies that were halting donations to the members of Congress who objected to certifying the election results, including AT&T, Marriott International, Dow, Airbnb, and Morgan Stanley.
Aware of the fact that the political action committee of the American College of Cardiology (ACC PAC) makes donations to political candidates, I went to the OpenSecrets.Org website to see which politicians they support with donations. A quick glance at their list of contributions for the 2020 election cycle revealed donations to Steve Scalise, Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and Mo Brooks each of whom had been ardent supporters of the racist, xenophobic, anti-science policies of the Trump administration long before the insurrection and each of whom voted against certification of the election results.
— Clinically Conservative Cardiologist (@DavidLBrownMD) January 15, 2021
I had long been skeptical of supporting the ACC. To someone who supports evidence-based medicine and a less-is-more approach to patient care, the ACC seems to promote excessive testing and treatments and the fee-for-service environment that incentivizes excessive testing and treatment. At the same time, to my knowledge, they have never supported reform of our healthcare system that would ensure equal access to all and the concept that healthcare is a basic human right. Furthermore, I was tired of the endless emails they send promoting their products and services and the deluge of the advertisement-laden paper journals that showed up on my desk every week. I realize the ACC and the ACC PAC are separate entities, but in my view this is a distinction without a difference. On January 15, 2021, I tweeted “I don’t think so @ACCinTouch. No more inbox clutter, no more wasteful paper journals, and no more support for sedition. I’ll give the $910 to our food bank” along with a photo of my ACC membership renewal statement in my office trash can. Supporting the insurrectionists was the last straw. While I know the donations from ACC PAC to the insurrectionists were made before the actual insurrection, they were made long after it was clear that these individuals were supporters and enablers of Trump’s racist, xenophobic, anti-science policies. After further study of the list of donations, it turns out the ACC PAC supported one Senator and 30 members of the House of Representatives who voted to overturn the results of a free and fair election.
The day after my tweet an unofficial spokesperson for ACC PAC tweeted the following (bold emphasis is mine): “ACC PAC contributes to candidates in elections who support the goals of the ACC and improving cardiovascular care. certainly some of these candidates have become controversial more recently, and the decision to support them in the future will be carefully scrutinized.” Referring to politicians that sought to destroy our democracy as “controversial” sums up my view of the ACC-tepid, self-serving, and with no moral compass. At some point, the leadership of the ACC PAC posted a letter on their website stating that it was temporarily halting donations to reassess their method for selecting recipients of their donations. The letter also states that “Since its creation in 2002, the ACC’s HeartPAC has provided an opportunity for ACC members to help advance the College’s Mission on Capitol Hill, working with lawmakers regardless of party affiliation.” “Regardless of party affiliation” seems like the ACC version of President Trump’s claim that there were “fine people on both sides” of the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville. Party affiliation is important. We now have a major American political party that supports sedition, treason, and armed insurrection not to mention the racism, the cruelty, the xenophobia, the child separation, the environmental destruction and the anti-science policies of the last administration. It should not be supported. Period. To me, it is orders of magnitude more important to preserve our democracy than to improve reimbursement for cardiology procedures. Because the ACC and ACC PAC do not seem to understand that there is a societal responsibility that supersedes the parochial interests of cardiologists, I feel comfortable resigning my membership and encourage my colleagues to do the same.
To me, it is orders of magnitude more important to preserve our democracy than to improve reimbursement for cardiology procedures.