Senate Blocks Recess Appointments For Thanksgiving

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2007

Reacting to rumors that President Bush plans on making a recess appointment of Dr. James Holsinger to the post of Surgeon General, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV), said he would schedule “pro forma” sessions during the next two weeks instead of going into recess over the Thanksgiving holidays. This leaves the Senate technically in session.

No recess, no recess appointment. No word on how the Senate plans to handle the Christmas holidays.

andrew weaver

November 21st, 2007

Former UK Chancellor Holsinger and $20 million of Church Money
by Rev. Andrew J. Weaver, Ph.D., and Lawrence H. McGaughey, Esq.

Dr. James Holsinger, former Chancellor at the UK medical School, is President Bush’s choice for Surgeon General. He has been a major player in a contentious and controversial seven year lawsuit involving his own church. Before Holsinger is confirmed by the Senate he needs to address serious ethical issues regarding his conduct in the law suit while employed by UK.
The litigation involved the sale in 1995 of a United Methodist Church (UMC) hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, and the disposition of the $20 million in proceeds. The hospital’s trustees refused to hand over the assets to the owner, the UMC in Kentucky. Instead, the self-appointed trustees, calling themselves the Good Samaritan Foundation (GSF) placed the funds under their sole control and withheld the money from the church for five years. The church was forced to engage in a long and costly lawsuit to find out where the money was and to regain its property. Holsinger became a GSF trustee in July 2000, joining in the lawsuit against his own church.
According to several individuals intimately acquainted with the litigation, Holsinger actually became the driving force in the prolongation of the lawsuit. Shortly after GSF lost in court for the second time in 2006, Holsinger stated that the GSF trustees, which he chaired, would persist in its legal battle. In a stunning denunciation of his own church, Holsinger publicly stated his personal belief that the UMC was “only interested in the Foundation’s money, not its cause” [health care for the poor and disadvantaged]. It was only when Holsinger was named as Surgeon General that the litigation came to an abrupt halt. Within a matter of days after his May 24, 2007, nomination, Holsinger resigned from the GSF trustees and the lawsuit, indicating that to continue would be incompatible with an appointment as Surgeon General. Within a mere two weeks, the suit was finally settled — after over seven years!
What might have motivated Holsinger to be a part of long, costly litigation against his own church? Following the money offers insight. From July 1997, through June 2006, the GSF and a corporate subsidiary dispersed $8,430,363 in grants — of which $5,314,670 (63 percent) was given to University of Kentucky (UK) programs in medicine, nursing, dentistry, and public health. This included endowing two academic chairs valued at a million dollars each — one in nursing and the other in public health. These endowed chairs and several million in other gifts were awarded while Holsinger was fundraising for these UK programs in his job as Chancellor of the Chandler Medical Center of UK from 1994 through 2003. The grants continued to flow after he left the position of Chancellor, while he continued as a GSF trustee until May 2007.
The GSF’s contributions to UK medical and its related schools have been so significant that the foundation is listed on the highest tier of honored benefactors to the university, along with major corporations such as Alcoa, DuPont, IBM, and the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.
What makes the GSF awards to UK more remarkable is that they were awarded in contradiction to the foundation’s own standards of grant-making. According to the grant policy guidelines of the GSF, “[m]ajor organizations” such as “[h]ospitals, [c]olleges and [u]niversities are not eligible as a general statement,” although exceptions could be made by the trustees. The exception in this case became the rule when it came to UK.
In addition, for more than a decade the return on the investments of the foundation was dismal. In May, 2005, GSF admitted in a letter to making poor return on the assets and to conflicts of interest by some of the trustees. Three GSF trustees had been involved in managing the assets of GSF while serving on the board. The church representatives told the GSF that it was “unconscionable” that after a decade the funds were not being professionally managed by experts who had no personal connection with the board.
The Surgeon General is our chief health educator, overseeing the work of the 6,000-member Public Health Service. It is a position that requires the highest ethical standards and personal conduct. Before Holsinger is confirmed, the Senate must ask serious questions about his ethics, especially regarding a costly lawsuit against his church and money funneled to UK.

Rev. Andrew J. Weaver, Ph.D., is a United Methodist minister and research psychologist who has written extensively on the role of clergy in preventive mental health care. He lives in New York City. He has co-authored 14 books including: Counseling Survivors of Traumatic Events (Abingdon, 2003), Reflections on Grief and the Spiritual Journey (Abingdon, 2005), Counseling Persons with Addictions and Compulsions (Pilgrim, 2007), and Connected Spirits: Friends and Spiritual Journeys (Pilgrim, 2007).

Lawrence H. McGaughey, Esq., is an attorney practicing law in New York City with specialties in real estate, trusts and estates, and not-for-profit organizations. He has represented many United Methodist churches and organizations and is the Chancellor of the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Any views stated in this article are personal and are not intended to represent the views of any client.

Timothy Kincaid

November 21st, 2007

OK, I was all ready to lecture you about such a lengthy comment… but after reading it all I can say is WOW!!!

Suricou Raven

November 22nd, 2007

Holsinger is one of the plumbing-obcessed class of anti-gay people. You should all know the type: “The bits wern’t intended by God to fit together that way, and going against God’s design is evil!”

He even wrote a paper on the subject, worthy of a grade D- at any high school:
http://www.tugsa.net/holsinger.homosexuality.pdf

I think that is the Dutch Study he got his statistics from… the one that compared homosexuals attending an STI clinic to the general population of heterosexuals, and declared homosexuals to be filthy and disease-ridden. A favourite work of the anti-gays that.

Jim Burroway

November 22nd, 2007

Suricou,

Holsinger didn’t use the Xiridou article.

I did a complete analysis of Holsinger’s 1991 paper here.

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