The anti-vax founder of America’s Frontline Doctors now has a license to practice in Florida
Dr. Simone Gold, an emergency-room doctor who became one of the country’s most vocal anti-vaxxers during the COVID 19 pandemic, has adopted Florida as her new home. In videos, she says she prefers its politics to what she calls “the communist nation of California.”
In the spring, she moved to Naples, set up a new company, and on July 22 received a Florida medical license.
She’s not practicing yet, though. That’s because she’s been in prison since July 26, serving a 60-day sentence at the Federal Detention Center in Miami imposed after she pleaded guilty to trespassing into a restricted building -- the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 last year.
The Florida Health Department issued Gold’s medical license after reviewing the records in her case, according to a transcript of her June 16 sentencing hearing. The health department's press office did not respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, two things are happening: The state of California is trying to take Gold’s license away, according to the court transcript. And the group Gold founded in 2020, America’s Frontline Doctors, is raising heaps of money on a “Free Dr. Gold” campaign -- more than $430,000 as of mid-June.
The video the group posted says she is being persecuted for “daring to speak the truth that the government wanted to hide.”
What did it want to hide? As Gold explains in another video, “Covid can be treated without relying on masks, lockdown, or experimental therapies.” She believes the vaccine is dangerous, and has endorsed treatments that the FDA regards as ineffective for Covid-19, including hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.
Gold, 56, has a flair for drama and literally waves the flag in her videos. The one on her group’s home page says: “I’m Dr. Simone Gold, founder of America’s Frontline Doctors. For the past 2 years, corrupt forces in the media, government and medicine have been lying to you. Countless lives have been lost and permanently damaged due to this corruption. We’re here to show you the way forward -- with science, with law and with a return to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
'I made a mistake'
At her sentencing, Gold asked for leniency. “I made a mistake. I have consistently said so. I deeply regret going inside the Capitol.” But U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper said he was skeptical, in that “your organization has used your notoriety to raise money and garner support for you in connection with this sentencing … by mischaracterizing what this proceeding is all about.”
“Your organization is leading people to the misimpression that this is a political prosecution or is about free speech. It ain’t about free speech. I mean, Jan. 6th was about a lot of things, but it was not about the First Amendment, and it was certainly not about Covid treatments or vaccinations…. The only reason you’re here is where and when and how you chose to express your views…”
Given that she is obviously bright – an emergency-medicine career and a law degree from Stanford -- Gold should have known better, the judge said. While other Jan. 6 defendants “were misled and hoodwinked into coming to D.C. that day …I think you well knew what you were doing.”
Federal authorities had asked for a six-month sentence; Gold’s attorneys asked for time served. The judge sentenced her to 60 days, plus a year of supervision and a $9,500 fine. He also suggested that America’s Frontline Doctors curtail its “Free Dr. Gold” campaign:
“I find it unseemly that your organization is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for its operations, including your salary, based on your participation in January 6th. I think that is a real disservice to the true victims of that day.”
However, the videos remain as of Aug. 17. Requests for comment to America’s Frontline Doctors drew no response. In a video posted just before Gold entered prison, she said she is a political prisoner subjected to “selective prosecution,” like others arrested in connection with Jan. 6. “It’s total fascism,” Gold said. “The judiciary’s totally corrupt, and not just the judiciary, but also the executive branch, the Department of Justice and FBI.”
America’s Frontline Doctors burst onto the public scene two years ago, when Gold and other doctors dressed in white coats held a press conference on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, protesting the lockdown, masking and other public-health guidelines on COVID-19. One of those who appeared with Gold that day was Dr. Joseph Ladapo, who would later become Florida’s Surgeon General. President Donald Trump and his son Don Jr. tweeted a link to the video.
Although that press conference and others have been mostly scrubbed from YouTube, Facebook and other mass social media on the grounds of misinformation, Gold has become a favorite of right-wing outlets. Her group posts videos on their own site and on Rumble.com.
In a profile of Gold last year, Mother Jones magazine portrayed her as a high-achieving but ordinary Jewish wife and mother in Beverly Hills who went through divorce and became radicalized in a bizarre midlife crisis. It culminated in the rotunda of the Capitol, with Gold perched on the statue of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower with a bullhorn in her hands, next to her boyfriend John Strand. He was arrested too, and records show he is awaiting trial.
Last fall, following an article on Gold and her group by Time.com, Rep. James Clyburn, chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, accused them of profiting through prescribing worthless remedies online. He issued a letter asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. A spokeswoman for the FTC said the agency could not comment on whether it is investigating.
Meanwhile, the California Assembly passed a bill inspired by Dr. Gold calling it “unprofessional conduct” for physicians to disseminate misinformation about Covid-19. That bill is pending in the California Senate.
And Gold’s new Florida company, GoldCare Health & Wellness LLC , is recruiting physicians, pharmacists and others and marketing to consumers online. It is described as a “private membership association” that costs $1,000 a year to join, $2,000 for a family. No private or government insurance is accepted for consultations that cost up to $100 per 15 minutes via telemedicine, according to marketing materials. Lab tests and prescriptions cost extra. Hospital care is not covered.
The idea, according to the website, is to “serve each patient’s best interest and promote medical freedom … Because we don’t allow government or insurance to control healthcare decisions, the patient-physician relationship can flourish.”
Attempts to learn more were rebuffed. A staff member identified only as Miriam wrote, “At this time we are not doing any media interviews.”
Copyright 2022 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7. To see more, visit WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7.