April 16, 2015

A Note on Who You May or May Not Want To Follow in the California Fight on SB 277

Hey Californians! First... brilliant job yesterday and for the last several months on educating your Senators on the insanity of SB 277! Cried watching the hearings, and laughed/danced at the outcome. The pressure needs to stay on, but I will be shocked at this point if the bill is not dead this time next week. We should plan an online party next wed night! (Sure I'm getting ahead of myself, but we need some happy time after all this, don't we?)

But on to more somber and less fun topics.

The fight on this bill in CA has woken up and brought in so many new people to the war to defend our parental and health choice rights, which is wonderful! WELCOME TO YOU ALL! STAY IN THIS FIGHT! THE PRICE OF FREEDOM IS ETERNAL VIGILANCE! But unfortunately it also risks allowing shills, trolls, spies, and the just plain troublesome people into the fold as well, as has happened many times before. (I now get AT LEAST one troll a day trying to friend me on FB.)

As there have been some questions about a couple of the new people taking leadership positions about which there have been concerns, and as I am one of those people who vets newcomers to make sure they are legit and safe, etc, I was asked by some people in CA to look into WTF was going on. This is my WTF report. It represents the findings and opinions of me, myself and I, and is in no way associated with any group that I have worked for, orgs that I am affiliated with, individuals that I know, people that I may or may not be married to, or humans to which I have given birth. Buck stopping here, etc, etc.

So one of the many FB groups that has popped up to fight SB 277 is a group called Our Kids Our Choice (sister group is  Our Kids,Our Choice Community). It was started by a woman named Kristin Hundley and one of the admins there is another woman named Elizabeth Hanson. They started the group in February, and it has quickly grown to almost 7,000 people. They were working with the larger coalition of groups, called the California Coalition for Health Choice (not formally affiliated with HealthChoice.org of which I am in leadership), which includes many of our more well known activists who have been working on these issues for a decade or more.

Long story short, Ms. Hundley, and to a lesser extent, Ms. Hanson, have exhibited behavior over the last few month that have resulted in everyone in the CCHC, except for one individual, refusing to work with them, and this week the questions that were finally being asked were, “WTF? Who are these people, and are they Pharma sent to be a bother to us?” Enter Ginger Taylor to find out WTF.

Before launching into this, I want to be clear that I HAVE ONLY LOOKED INTO THESE TWO WOMEN, AND WHAT I AM REPORTING HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OF THE OTHER ADMINS ON THE GROUP OR ANY OF THE GROUP MEMBERS. They may be saints straight from heaven for all I know.  I have not talked to them in person, but online chats with them give me the impression that they are sincere and may not even know about all the problems.

The concerns included the reports that:

- No one could be found that had actually met either of them in person.
- They had never attended hearings or any events.
- These two women may be one person, after one was contacting people from her own fb account but giving people the other's name in chats.
- They were asking for 50k in funding that was going directly to Kristin Hundley personally from a go fund me page with out anyone confirming who she was or having a way to confirm how the money would actually be spent. (They are not a non-profit or a PAC or any legal entity, there is no way to track funding, no one had met them or knew their addresses, there were not receipts offered to the group, all things that make Kristin's fund raising suspect.)
- That Kristin was trying to turn this into a full time paid position for herself riding off the reputation of the orgs in the CCHC.
- They were collecting personal information from people (full name, city, county, number of children in school, etc) through an online survey with out the community knowing where that information would go or would be used. Note there is no claim that the personal information will be kept private and not shared outside of OKOC.
- They were head hunting from other groups trying to take regional leaders from existing groups for their own efforts.
- They were making demands of long time activists with standing when, they had no track record and no one could confirm who they were in the real world. Their only standing was that they had a fb group of 6,000+ people.
- They had put up a web site that does not list their names, any officers of the group, any address, any legal filing/standing/affiliation, not even a phone number.  The site has no identifying information on it.  [Update: someone called to tell me that there is a phone number on the moble version of the site, but not on the web version of the site.]
- They are using pictures of the CA rally that they did not help organize, finance or attend to promote their group with out the permission of the photographers or the organizers of the rally.
- They were just very difficult people to work with and a good deal of time and energy was being spent trying to manage their personalities and the conflicts that they were stirring up rather than fighting Pan.
- They may be opposition plants here to divert money, time, resources, people, etc away from the efforts.

Usually these kinds of concerns work themselves out after a few months when people's work stands or falls on its own, but the CA fight is too important to be that indulgent here as we need every minute and every dollar to be used effectively. Since this came up on Tuesday, the day before the Ed. Committee hearings, ain't nobody got time for dat. As it is still not over... still no time for dat.

So I put out the word that there may be a problem with these women, and started asking lots of people if they knew these women offline, and found that, in fact, no one had ever laid eyes on either one of them. I was given a phone number for Kristin and called her to figure out what was going on, and ended up having two phone calls with both of them on the line for more than an hour. A fourth party also was on the line for most of the conversation.

I can report that these are two women, both in California, whose identities I have been able to confirm independently. Elizabeth does have a financial conflict of interest, as her husband works for a biotech company, but she reported it to me the first time I asked them to disclose any potential conflicts of interest. I WAS QUITE CONVINCED BY OUR CONVERSATIONS THAT THEY EARNESTLY CARE ABOUT, AND ARE WORKING TOWARD, VACCINE CHOICE RIGHTS AND ARE NOT TROLLS OR SHILLS OR SPIES.


My experience with them over the last two days in trying to give them a chance to be vetted so that they might back earn some of the trust and benefit of the doubt that they were initially given, was that they are very difficult, entitled women who do not have the requisite maturity for leadership in our community.

Their response toward me was a pretty rude, “Who are you?” Despite the fact that they were actually sharing stories I had written and Health Choice's video content. I initially tried with some subtly to let them know that I am someone who has been around for a while, that many people trust and and that I sometimes look into problems in the community to make sure that people in leadership are safe people, and if I find they arn't, I let people know so they can make informed choices on who to be involved with. They didn't really seem to hear me. After a few times of having to explain who I was, they again asked something to the effect of, “how do we even know.... “ and I actually had to flat out say to them, in a quite annoyed tone, “I am powerful in this community. If I report on you, people will believe what I say.” No one who has earned any standing in any community should have to actually say those words out loud to someone else who wants to be in leadership in that community. It felt absolutely gross to say. It was one step away from, “Do you know who I am?!” Ugh...

I sent them my bio, the book, the debate and a few of my other bona fides, but they didn't respond to them.

Long story short, I asked for their home addresses (and gave them mine and promised that their information would stay private) so that I could verify who they were. They refused. I asked them for receipts of the money they had spent, or the names of individuals I could contact that they had contracted with that could confirm that they were being paid to work on the issue (or even whose expenses were being paid). They refused. I asked them to simply email me so I could have their email addresses to do a search on them. They said they would email me. That was two days ago and no emails. I sent them several fb messages to tell them unless they gave me something to independently verify their identities/view their online presence/know that they are not pocketing the $1,600 that they have raised out of the $50,000 they have asked for, I would be writing publicly about their lack of transparency and the unanswered questions and concerns about them. Their response was that they were contacting their lawyers.

This is what their gofund me page reports that the money is for:

These costs include:
- lobbyists/political strategists’ fees
- legal fees
- website hosting, domain hosting, and web creation fees
- PO box and phone number fees
- stock photo licensing fees
- photocopying/binding fees
- bookkeeping/accounting fees
- video/photo editing fees

It is reasonable for a group member to ask for verification that the money is being used thusly. They refused to offer any verification that it is or will be used thusly.

This is how the conversation ended:
  • Ginger Taylor

    I see that you have been reading my messaes and have stopped responding. And I have not yet heard from Kristin on anything since our phone call last night. So this is the note I put out this morning privately to the individuals who have been asking me about you. If you decide to change your course and give me some infomation so that I can verify you are earnest players and not taking advantage of the situation to raise money for yourselves, please let me know.

    "So just a heads up. I have been trying to follow up with the information on these women since I talked to them last night, and this crap just keeps getting weirder and more strange. People sending me screen caps of odd conversations, Elizabeth posing as Kristin, very odd. And I although they said they would email me so I could at least confirm who they were, they haven't.

    Then when I found out that they were trying to raise 50k, with out even so much as an address for the group or for Kristin (who the money from the gofundme page is going straight to) I asked them for some sort of recipets or references from someone that they had contracted with to do work on the hearings, and they won't send me any information They also refused to give me their addresses, even though I gave them mine and assured them that their info would be kept private.

    Group leadership is responsible to the group to account for finances raised by the group, and they are denying any information on the money quesions from a group member.

    So I am going to give them until the end of the day to do something that can be independently verified and then if they don't, put out a public statement recommending that people be cautious with these two and only give donations to verified groups like the CCA or CCHC.

    I don't think they are pharma trolls or spies, but perhaps opportunists and at the very least they lack the minimum maturity required for a leadership role in our community. My experience with them is that they come accross as very entitled and demanding, and don't seem to think that they are accountable for their actions, even to their own group members."
  • Kristen Hundley
    Kristen Hundley

    We are consulting with our legal team on how to proceed in communication with you. We will contact you at the appropriate time.
  • Ginger Taylor
    Ginger Taylor

    Ok. Will be publishing tomorrow, so let me know any information you want me to have before then.
  • Kristen Hundley
    Kristen Hundley

    What exactly will you be publishing? I just want to be clear. It sounds like what you are saying is that of we do not comply with your demands, you will publish derogatory and incriminating information about us as individuals and our group as a whole. Do I have that correct?
  • Ginger Taylor
    Ginger Taylor

    I have just given you a run down of where I am on you right now. It will be something to that effect. You are free to keep private what ever information you want. And I am free to investigate you and to warn the community if I think that you are not on the up and up. I am an investgative writer. That is what I do.
  • Kristen Hundley
    Kristen Hundley

    I see. Thank you.
  • Today
  • Ginger Taylor
    Ginger Taylor

    I will be publishing in the next hourish, so please let me know now if you plan on sending any infromation to me that I can use to vet you guys or your claims.
  • Kristen Hundley
    Kristen Hundley

    Hi Ginger...I am still confused about what you are publishing. You can easily google us to find out who we are. Have you done any investigation that would lead you to believe that we are *not* as you say "on the up and up". You are demanding that we give you our personal information and stating that if we don't you will publish incriminating things about us. Please clarify if that is your position.
  • Ginger Taylor
    Ginger Taylor

    This is what I am publishing. Going up in about five minutes. I will send you the link once it is up:

And then I sent them the draft this article.

To sum up my read on them:
- Care very much about vaccine choice
- Not pharma plants
- Not mature people
- Not qualified for leadership
- At best they may be niave on this work and on how to treat fellow activists, but I will go so far as to say that my experience of these women are that they are entitled brats who don't seem to think that they are accountable for their actions, not even to members of their own organization.

I strongly encourage them to re-evalute their approach to advocacy and how they treat fellow advocates, and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

So, my recommendations to you the California Pan Fighting Facebooker:

- If you have donated to their go fund me page, you may want to consider either ask them for some verifiable information on who they are and what the money is being used for, or get your money back.
- If you want to donate to the California efforts, the two reputable groups that I know of to do that through are the CCA (https://www.calchiro.org/) or The Canary Party (http://canaryparty.org/index.php/donate - 100% of all donations tagged “California” go straight to the CCHC efforts.)
- Members of the OKOC page may want to do their own vetting on the leadership of that group to see if they can get more information than I was able to before giving them your trust.
- If you have taken their online survey you may want to ask what that information will be used for and if it will remain private.
- Follow the recommendations of the CCHC if you are in the California fight.
- If you consider me a trusted source, don't automatically assume that any group I am in is one I actually have vetted and support, or that anyone on my friend's list is a safe person. I have nearly 4,500 fb friends and am in hundreds of group (because people can add me to whatever).  I am sure that there are tolls both among my fb followers or in those groups.

If anyone has more information on who they are, and whether or not you have a trusted relationship with them, please post below.  I could not find anyone who did, but I only had two days to look.

As always, as this fight for vaccine choice rights becomes more and more intense, it is wise for us to pay attention to who is in leadership.  Different groups take different approaches, and I actually think that is great.  We all need to find a group that we can trust and who shares our goals and values.

If OKOC is your group of choice, then great.  I earnestly wish you all the success in the world.  Just want to encourage you to pay closer attention to your leadership in this very, very important battle to make sure that little red flags and problems don't become huge problems that hamstring the actual work.

I let them know I would post any statement that they sent me on this matter.

Correction:  They actually have two FB groups and I had confused one for the other.  They are now both listed and links are correct.

Update:  Kristen and Elizabth have cirulated a video via drop box.

Update: 4/17 Kristen posts to the OKOC group:

Kristen Hundley

Hi folks. I'm writing to clear up some questions an rumors. I'm sorry my response took so long. I'm a human after all and I have been hurt by all the accusations just like I'm sure anyone of you would be if you were attacked. I realize unfortunately this is part of the political game. To clear things up I want you to know that I'm hiring an accountant to manage the go fund me account. It's currently sitting in escrow. This was always the plan. I realize now it was a mistake to not address that immediately. If you go to the go fund me page now you will see that how the funds will be spent is clearly outlined. I will also be adding my bio to the website as the founder of the group. I hope all of you will see my full transparency. I'm a single mom doing the best I can and have devoted all my free time to OKOC and our cause. I am at work today as I'm sure many of you are but I just wanted to quickly address your concerns and let you know that I'm listening. I'd appreciate in return that you understand that with a full time job I'm doing all of this completely in my spare time and am handling them as quickly as possible. Thank you all for your continued efforts and commitment. I will continue to do everything I can to help us defeat this bill.

Update 4/17 I have had a few more specific requests on where to go for information on the California efforts for those looking for daily updates and directions.  I recommend the California Coalition for Vaccine Choice. https://www.facebook.com/groups/393039350720224/


Statement by the California Coalition for Health Choice:

"CCHC Continues To Grow & Show Strength

The California Coalition for Health Choice (CCHC) is a grassroots umbrella organization that advocates for the preservation of parental rights regarding medical decisions for their children.  CCHC represents thousands of parents, healthcare professionals and concerned citizens who oppose SB277.

The CCHC-YFYC has been the leader in setting direction for legislative advocacy and media strategy.  CCHC was responsible for recruiting Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Eric Gladen, Dr. Bob Sears and others for our Sacramento and San Diego Rallies.  These rallies were broadcast statewide.  CCHC was also responsible for orchestrating testimony, and mobilizing the thousands of people who attended the Senate Health & Education Committee hearings. CCHC is responsible for the largest victory to date, which is to delay a vote in Senate Education Committee.  This clearly demonstrates that we are being heard.

CCHC consists of many advocacy and grassroots organizations, including: Californians for Health Choice; Your Family, Your Choice - People for Informed Consent; the Canary Party; California Coalition for Vaccine Choice; People Against Mandatory Vaccines, Weston Price Foundation and many others.  CCHC also seeks counsel, support and resources from other organizations, including the California Chiropractic Association.

CCHC is in no way affiliated with a group called Our Kids, Our Choice. There has been confusion as this group has posted pictures of the events, and presented themselves as involved in our Coalition.   CCHC has made several attempts to work with OKOC leadership, and these attempts have failed.  OKOC has no interest in working with CCHC. While this is unfortunate, we do welcome members of OKOC who share in our mission to join our cause.

For questions or to officially become part of CCHC, please contact us at cchcyfyc@gmail.com.

Please refer all media inquiries to Jean Munoz Keese via private message, and/or email CCHCMedia@yahoo.com."

Update Jan 2016:

Some have asked how this played out.  I encouraged Kristin to speak with someone who had a good understanding of financing laws and accountability for such donations.  She determined that it was not wise to be collecting funds the way she had been doing, and donated the money to the California Chiropractic Association.

OKOC has since become a 501c4 corporation, so their financial accountability is no longer in question, and everyone seems back on the path to doing the work that so badly needs to be done.

No pharma shills, legitimacy of those involved has been esstablished, and its all good.


Steve said...

I managed to farm some names off the ourkidsourchoice website. Makes for some interesting google searches if nothing else:

"Elizabeth Hanson" gofundme

"brandon brown" gofundme

"bob davis" gofundme

"Kristen Hundley" gofundme

"kelly paine" crowdrise

"brandon brown" crowdrise

MichelleF said...

Wow Ginger, thank you! this has really been a mess for dedicated freedom fighters here in CA. Your voice is necessary to weed-through this mess.

To your commenter Steve: Good work! Holy moly...these guys are in it for the money like our elected officials

Growing up Griffith said...

they are still moderators on OKOC on FB.... is that their page?

George S said...

“I am powerful in this community. If I report on you, people will believe what I say.” Doesn't that statement seem a little arrogant to anyone? Is threatening and bullying others that you know almost nothing about who are working for the same cause really the best way to communicate and collaborate? Many of us in Our Kids Our Choice are relatively new at this, we know we make mistakes, constructuve criticsm is fine but please lets all try to be polite and civil.

Ginger Taylor said...

Steve and Michelle,

I want to be careful not to overstate or tar anyone via guilt by association.

Like I said, even their co-admins in the group seemed like they didn't really understand how bad the problem was when I chatted with them so I want to make any assumptions about any of these people.

There is nothing wrong with trying to raise money for... whatever you are doing.

Heck I ask for tips every year on this blog on my birthday. http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2014/01/annual-birthday-fundraiser.html

I was actually considering making a go fund me page last month to raise $100 to go day drinking on St. Patrick's Day this year. I have a running joke where I write when I am frustrated with events in the world that I need to get around to taking up drinking, so I started writing a funny piece about how I was finally getting around to it on my to do list, and planned to start my substance misuse day drinking that day with friends in Portland. I was quite amused by my self, as I often am, but then halfway through I deleted it because I knew that some jackhole that didn't get the joke would eventually use it to accuse me of alcoholism and try to get me investigated by CPS or something.

I did write fb post about it though that was a big hit.

So no judgements on your people, cause if Kristin's fellow admins were not completely clued in about this, then "Brandon Brown" might be a kindly old man who gives all his money to orphaned hamsters or something. I checked the Elizabeth Hanson go fund me doesn't look like the same woman.

Gonna go start a hamster orhphanage.

Ginger Taylor said...

Yes, MichelleF, they are still the admins on the group.

Steve said...

Hey Ginger it may all be legit. I mean cmon common names right. I mean I am no detective but it appeared to me that those names were the names of nationbuilder.com accounts names that have some level of access to to ourkidsourchoice.org that the rest of us don't.

Let's just assume for a minute this is not a scam. At best the cloak of secrecy is completely inappropriate.

I think I'll stick with you and Barbara Loe Fisher for leadership.

Ginger Taylor said...

Steve, it is perfectly reasonable for you to decide it is likely a scam. And glad to hear that Barbara and company have your loyalty. They have earned it daily for many years.

If and how Kristin and Elizabeth respond to this will likely reveal if it is a scam or not. If there is no response or a deflective hissy fit, then yeah... probably right. Or they might step up, admit that they behaved foolishly, address all the concerns and fix the problem. I have told them several times I will post any response they have, unedited.

I always vote for people learning and growing, so let's hope that happens. But feel free to come back in a month and tell me, "I told you so." if they fail to handle this as good faith players or are further revealed to be scammers.

You can even point at me and be all https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX7wtNOkuHo

Joan Withersnotte said...

Hi Ginger, I just moved to CA from Maine a little over a year ago. My experience with Kristen H. on OKOC was exactly as you report. I asked a question "what is going on?" as there was some strange activity and was banned and called a troll according to members still there whom I was in contact with. I do not trust her and I find her methods less than transparent.

George S said...

So I don't know it anyone here is aware of this but the CA senate education comittee just gave Pan an extra week before a final vote would be made next Weds. Since that time one of the opponents of the bill, senator Huff was removed and replaced by senator Honning who has already voted in favor of the bill in the health committee and would be expected to vote in favor again. Is there anyone here who cares? What are you here for if not trying to defeat this bill? If you don't care what happens why don't you just get out of the way and leave it to the people who really do care?

Kandylini said...

"Their response toward me was a pretty rude, 'Who are you?'"

They didn't know who YOU are?! I'm not really comfortable supporting people in this movement who don't know you.

That's like not knowing who Venus Williams is in tennis.

Ginger Taylor said...

Yes, George... we all know that. And all that work is taking place on a dozen other blogs and fb pages, not here. This is my personal blog and I write on it only a few times a year now, and usually on things that I want to say personally and are not central to the vaccine fight. It is off the beaten path, and where I write, and sometimes vent, to my regular readers.

Anything that I really want to make sure that will get wide coverage is published on other sites.

Make sure to check Age of Autism for coverage on the state battles, and join CCHC or California Coalition for Vaccine Choice on FB to work on the CA legislation.