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Sunday, April 14, 2024 - 06:02 PM

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

First Published in 1994

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF
UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

He Blew the Whistle Now the Feds Are Punishing Him for It

Eight months after anonymously blowing the whistle on Texas Children’s Hospital’s (TCH) transgender program, a surgeon has gone public with a tale of relentless persecution by the Biden administration. Dr. Eithan Haim would have preferred to remain anonymous, but he said the Biden administration’s “blatant attempt at political intimidation” forced him to go public, after a federal criminal investigation buried him and his wife in $250,000 of legal fees without ever filing charges.

“We spent the entirety of our retirement, investments, savings, and almost all of our disposable income to pay the legal bills to keep the case alive,” Haim explained. “Although we have given this case all we have, there simply isn’t enough to keep up with the hundreds of thousands we currently owe in legal bills or the potential million[s] it would cost to fight this case through trial.” On Wednesday, Haim went public, launching a fundraiser for his legal defense on GiveSendGo, a GoFundMe alternative that does not cancel fundraisers for politically incorrect causes.

Federal agents served Haim with notice of the criminal investigation against him on June 23, 2023, hours before he graduated from surgical training “in a highly atypical, unexpected, and aggressive show of force.” That’s either a frightful coincidence — one of many involving the Biden DOJ — or a deliberate attempt to dampen the celebratory mood of one of the best days of his life.

“They show me their badges, and they say they were investigating a case regarding medical records. It was one of those moments where time stands still,” Haim said. “Despite their best attempt at launching a surprise interview, I insisted on having an attorney present. Before leaving, however, I was given a target letter signed by a federal prosecutor that stated I was being criminally investigated,” he wrote.

The letter, signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Ansari of the Southern District of Texas, contained no information about the nature of the charges. “This office is involved in an investigation dealing with federal law violations. You are a potential target in this criminal investigation,” it read. Two paragraphs about his obtaining an attorney followed, and that was the entire letter. The letter did not mention that Dr. Haim was the sole target, that investigators lacked hard evidence that a crime had been committed, or even that the investigation concerned the misuse of medical records.

Haim had anonymously blown the whistle just over a month earlier to conservative investigative journalist Christopher Rufo, who published his account in an article dated May 16. Haim was then completing a surgical residency at TCH in Houston, Texas and uncovered evidence that the hospital system was still performing gender transition procedures on minors, even after claiming it has stopped doing so.

In March 2022, TCH announced it had “paused hormone-related prescription therapies for gender-affirming services” to “safeguard our healthcare professionals and impacted families from potential criminal legal ramifications” after Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) announced the state would investigate “so-called ‘sex change’ procedures” on minors as child abuse in February.

As Rufo reported, Haim uncovered evidence that TCH was surgically implanting puberty blockers into minor children as young as 11, and that they resumed these procedures as soon as three days after declaring they had “paused” them. He also encountered a presentation in which TCH instructed doctors that “surgical procedures could be appropriate for ‘adolescents on [a] case-by-case basis.’”

Haim’s explosive account was published at the same time the Texas legislature was voting on SB 14, a bill to protect children from these harmful gender transition procedures. The Texas House passed the bill 87-56 on May 15, and the Texas Senate approved the House’s version 19-12 on May 17. “In part due to the story’s release, the very next day, the Texas Legislature voted, with bipartisan support, to ban transgender medical interventions on minors,” said Haim. The law’s passage prompted TCH to declare a second time that it would end offering gender transition procedures to minors.

Before the bill’s ink was even dry, progressives were demanding that the whistleblower be smoked out and “punished.” “Someone leaked kids’ medical records from a Houston hospital to right wing activists,” declared Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee (D) on May 19. “The leaker must be punished & the kids must be protected.”

(Harris County contains the city of Houston and is the largest county in Texas. The Harris County Attorney handles civil litigation and is distinct from the Harris County District Attorney, which prosecutes criminal cases. Nevertheless, when he ousted an incumbent Democrat in 2021, Menefee established a progressive activist brand similar to Houston’s Soros-funded district attorney, Kim Ogg. Menefee obtained his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis, the same university where a whistleblower alleged unethical practices in their children’s hospital’s transgender center, prompting a state investigation in February 2023.)

Despite an apparent lack of jurisdiction, Menefee’s office released a statement warning that, “This illicit release of medical records puts children and their families at risk; and swift action must be taken to ensure that this does not happen again.” It mentioned that “unauthorized disclosures of medical records may violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, commonly known as HIPAA.”

The statement also announced that TCH would “fully investigate how this happened” and “fully disclose what they find to the Untied States Department of Health and Human Services. If a hospital employee leaked those medical records, they must be fired. If it was a hospital vendor, their contract must be terminated.”

“It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to silence a whistleblower in the medical space,” Family Research Council Senior Fellow Meg Kilgannon told The Washington Stand. Hard, that is, “until we understand that the activity exposed is related to sex change surgeries for children,” she added.

It took about a month for federal agents to sleuth out Haim as the whistleblower. Rufo hypothesized they did so by “review[ing] forensic information from TCH’s internal servers.” Then, on his graduation day, they knocked on his apartment door and told him he was under criminal investigation. Haim’s attorneys met with DOJ officials multiple times over the next few months — often enough to charge him $250,000. Despite the aggressive tactics and intense interviews, Haim has still not been charged with a crime more than six months later.

“The fact that no charges have been filed but legal expenses have been incurred by Dr. Haim proves the ‘process is the punishment,’” Kilgannon remarked. “These tactics are un-American, unconstitutional, and unbiblical.”

Haim said the prosecutors “seem to be working under the assumption that he had released patient names and birthdays in order for them to be targeted by right-wing mobs, which is completely untrue. But all the evidence is on Twitter. Everything’s HIPAA-compliant.”

Haim should know. He married a lawyer in 2022, who now works as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Surely, before performing such a life-altering act as blowing the whistle on a major medical scandal, Haim would have discussed the legal liability with his newlywed bride. Indeed, the hospital documents published online are heavily redacted to hide all personally identifiable information from patients’ records.

“Since no laws had been violated (no personally identifiable patient health information was disclosed), this was nothing more than a blatant attempt at political intimidation,” Haim wrote. “We believe this case is being driven by a highly ideological division within the Department of Health and Human Services that aims to silence whistleblowers who expose institutionalized medical corruption and the dangers of these hormone-based interventions for confused, adolescent children.

“This persecution is designed to silence anyone who is thinking of questioning these barbaric medical practices,” Kilgannon added. “No one is allowed to question ‘gender-affirming care.’ The Biden administration’s maniacal obsession with transgenderism has been demonstrated in dangerous rulemaking like on Title IX, and now we see the persecution of an American doctor for the ‘crime’ of pointing out a violation of state law, common sense, and human decency.”

Federal prosecutors could easily guess that financial hardship was an easy way to apply pressure to Haim. They served the 33-year-old with legal papers on the day he graduated from his surgical training. He certainly had no time to store up a large nest egg. He had married a wife only months earlier, and as a lawyer her early career was not likely to be all that lucrative. So they devised a strategy to bury the Haims in constant legal expenses, while not actually filing charges where there was no crime.

“The Biden administration wanted to make a point,” suggested Rufo: “those who challenge trans orthodoxy will be punished by the state.” He challenged the hospital, “If ‘gender-affirming care’ is truly the gold standard in medicine, TCH should defend it openly, not perform it in secret.”

“In order to prevent scrutiny of these programs, they are passing these regulations, passing these laws, and these federal bureaucracies, that will prevent that accountability from taking place,” Haim complained. “Anything you’re doing in the hospital to a patient, you should have no problem talking about and defending in public. If you’re doing something, and you want to keep it from the public, it’s very, very likely you’re doing something wrong.”

Ironically, the truly harmful leak came not from Haim but from one of the parties investigating him. Somehow, a malicious actor learned of Haim’s identity while he still remained publicly anonymous. Weeks after federal agents appeared at his door, four negative reviews appeared on his WebMD page, alleging that he “mutilates patients,” “mutilated me,” and “should be in jail for being a terrible physician.” The Daily Wire noted that this language echoed his anonymous interview with Rufo, where he stated that children were “permanently mutilated” by gender transition surgeries.

The reviews were doubly suspicious, both because Haim wasn’t seeing patients at the time and because all four originated from the same IP address, as WebMD later revealed.

Haim said he would have preferred to remain anonymous and concentrate on opening his career as a general surgeon instead of getting mixed up in a political debate. But, between the reputational attacks and the exorbitant legal fees inflicted on his by the DOJ’s unjustifiable meddling, he felt like he had no choice. “I knew that speaking out would necessarily put myself and my family at great risk, but after experiencing the extent of the corruption first-hand, it became clear that silence would never be an option,” he said.

“The attempt to investigate [me] is really the attempt to silence whistleblowers, because we know this is happening in other hospitals across the country,” Haim explained. “And if they can do this to me, they’re going to do it to other people who are in the same situation because people know this is happening and they just want to keep people silent. So that’s why we decided to come out publicly.”

“We owe our thanks to Dr. Haim and others in the community who are willing to speak out against atrocities like child sterilization or mutilation,” said Kilgannon.

Haim said he viewed his current situation as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stand up for what is right and against those who abuse their authority to silence those who speak the truth. In this way, the costs are miniscule. Whatever we have paid — whether financial, emotional, or career-wise — has been well worth it.”

In a sense, Haim was thrust into a situation where he had to live out Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 5:11, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” He has done so at great personal cost. The Biden administration’s Department of Justice doesn’t just target the rich and famous with malicious criminal investigations, but also ordinary people just trying to live their lives.

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