Neal Dunn's Hypocrisy
The Multimillionaire Medical Industry Executive
Rep. Neal Dunn puts his personal financial interests before the public interest in our district – most notably by voting for the RyanCare health bill that would end affordable health insurance for 63,000 men, women and children in District 2, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. He later profited even more by voting for the massive tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. He cut his own taxes by an estimated $19,316 because a single provision, the passthrough tax break, according to the Center for American Progress.
Dunn also doesn’t want you to know that he has grown wealthy by gaming taxpayer-financed health care programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare to maximize his profits. And he really doesn’t want you to know that soaring medical bills charged by his businesses continue to help drive up health insurance premiums.
Some highlights of Dunn’s lucrative medical industry businesses:
Since moving to Panama City and beginning private practice in 1990, Dunn has created a group practice of 45 urologists, Advanced Urology Institute, which now owns its own testing and treatment businesses. Because of lax Congressional oversight, this group can steer its patients to these businesses, get generous kickbacks, and pad Medicare and other bills that drive up our medical costs and insurance premiums.
Dunn founded and grew the Bay County Urological Center, a local group practice, which he parlayed into an even larger regional group practice, Advanced Urology Institute – now 45 urologists in North Florida and beyond. This group practice dominates urology services in District 2, exercising monopoly power to gouge higher payments from hospitals, insurers and working families.
In 2008, Dunn arranged for his Bay County Urological Center to negotiate a very favorable no-bid lease of the Radiation Oncology Center (and its $5 million annual revenue stream) from Panama City’s Bay Medical Center. By one estimate, the annual profit to Dunn’s business would be $2 million after expenses. More important, it enables his group practice to steer patients to its own cancer treatment facility, an arrangement that typically results in increased, often unnecessary, usage – and lucrative kickbacks – all paid by private insurers, Tricare, Medicare and Medicaid and, ultimately, by working families like ours.
The decision by the Bay Medical Center board of trustees to lease its profitable Radiation Oncology Center – giving away its $5 million revenue stream – raises ethical questions involving Dunn. At the same time the hospital trustees considered Dunn’s proposal, he was organizing a new local bank, Summit Bank, now with four branches in the Florida Panhandle. He appointed two hospital trustees and its CEO to the bank’s board of directors. Three past trustees also joined the board. Today, four of the eight Summit Bank directors are former Bay Medical Center trustees – blatant conflicts of interest.
Adding insult to injury to District 2 residents, Dunn proclaims the virtues of competition, which he has rigged by his anticompetitive business practices. On his campaign website, he states, “We need a free market health care system that gives consumers more choice and does not come between a patient and their doctor.” Welcome to the “free market” of one choice of urologists in North Florida – Dunn’s urologists.
Dunn's Performance in Office
Neal Dunn has failed to live up to minimal standards of performance as our representative in Washington, D.C. He refuses to meet with constituents he fears would criticize him, and has failed to make independent, informed judgments as he decides the future wellbeing of North Florida’s working families. Instead, he toes the ideological line of Speaker Paul Ryan, voting with him virtually 100% of the time.
Dunn openly refuses to hold town halls, explaining in a June 2, 2018 interview, “I don’t think the old-fashioned ‘Set Neal up and just scream at him for three hours’ town halls have been productive [although he never held one]. I don’t think people bring a lot of productive ideas to those. It really wasn’t a format that was popularly used. I think we’ve convinced ourselves that was the norm.” Baloney!
As a result, Dunn has failed to hold or appear at town hall meetings or even meet with the people he is supposed to represent. In February 2017, he apparently panicked at the prospect of meeting constituents in his Tallahassee office, left abruptly, and raced off in his SUV, running a red light as he sped away. It was recorded on video here.
Dunn has shown no signs of independent judgment as Speaker Paul Ryan dictates how to vote on important measures, most notably the RyanCare health plan that would have deprived 63,000 people in District 2 of the affordable health insurance they have today. His vote in 2017 for Ryan’s repeal of Dodd-Frank financial reforms will leave North Florida working families and enlisted military families defenseless from predatory lenders and swindlers. And his tax and spending cuts votes that explode our national debt will shift even more financial burdens on District 2 working families.
We can only hope that Congressman Dunn did not practice medicine the way he practices public policy. His defense of the RyanCare health plan ignores verifiable, authoritative evidence that it would deny coverage to 63,000 men, women and children in District 2 alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Instead, he employs – and evidently believes – bogus partisan studies.
Likewise, Dunn claims that the massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest – paid entirely by $1.5 trillion borrowed from U.S. and foreign bondholders – would pay for itself in future growth. This is despite solid evidence that it simply plunges us further in debt, with the burden of repayment falling on working families.
At the very least, Dunn shows a disturbing ingratitude to the taxpayers who funded his rise to multimillionaire. He attended medical school on a generous U.S. Army scholarship that also paid him while an intern and resident, in return for serving the minimum required years as a U.S. Army physician. Were it not for these taxpayer-funded programs, he might never have become the multimillionaire he is today. Yet today he rails against government involvement in health care.
Dunn Has Failed Women
“It is Dr. Dunn’s policy that his office makes no statements regarding personnel issues” was how he stonewalled the hiring and later firing his chief of staff, Brian Schubert, for enabling sexual harassment while earlier serving Rep. Patrick Meehan as his top aide.
“No statements regarding personnel issues” is classic coverup language – and insults the intelligence of the working families he is supposed to serve.
Here is some of what we know, based on news reports:
Dunn did not fire Schubert until February 28, 2018, five weeks after the New York Times reported on January 20, that Meehan harassed a young staffer with unwanted romantic advances, while Shubert was his chief of staff.
After deliberating, the House Ethics Committee on February 27 announced a subcommittee to investigate both Meehan and Schubert for “conduct that constitutes sexual harassment, retaliation, or misuse of official resources.” Meehan since resigned his House seat.
Schubert’s firing on February 28 happened only minutes after a Tallahassee Democrat reporter called for comment about the House Ethics Committee announcement.
The woman staffer filed a complaint and later received a settlement of an undisclosed payment from Meehan’s U.S. House office account. As part of the settlement, she could not publicly disclose what had occurred.
However, others with direct knowledge said that the married Meehan had professed his romantic desires for the young staffer and grew hostile after she did not reciprocate. After her position became untenable, she filed a formal complaint with the congressional Office of Compliance and later reached the confidential settlement agreement.
None of this could have happened without the knowledge and participation of Schubert, then Meehan’s chief of staff – not the retaliation against the woman, not the complaint she filed, not the settlement agreement, and not the improper payment from taxpayer funds.
Chiefs of staff for U.S. House and Senate members have broad powers to hire and fire staff, establish policy and task priorities, and monitor staff productivity. They are the most powerful staff position for any Congressman. Schubert’s annual salary was $168,411.
So what did Dunn do about Schubert between January 20 and February 28? Did Dunn not read the New York Times article and notice that his chief of staff had been Meehan’s top aide? Did he not call in Schubert and ask about his role in the sexual harassment? If he did, why did he wait five weeks to take action? And why now does Dunn continue to stonewall?
To declare that “it is Dr. Dunn’s policy” to refuse to answer questions shows, at best, his ignorance of the duty to disclose that elected officials have in an open government – and at worst, cynical stonewalling. Dunn’s “policy” is irrelevant. He’s not running Summit Bank here. He’s our Congressman and has a duty to disclose all.
Ultimately, there is a larger value at stake here – protecting (mostly) women in the workplace from sexual harassment by powerful men. It is hard enough for women to succeed in male-centric Washington DC without being pressured for sexual favors. And it limits the full value that women can bring to these important jobs and to our nation.
As Leon County Commissioner, I directly confronted egregious cases of sexual harassment of women employees, calling out the perpetrators and leading the adoption of new policies to investigate and resolve complaints. I was determined to show our women employees that we as managers would listen to them and act.
Neal Dunn should do no less.