By Jake Crosby
There is supposedly a new group on the horizon that calls itself the American Citizens for Health Choice (ACHC). However, it appears to be a new incarnation of a political organization founded in 2011 that effectively caused the collapse of the congressional autism hearings: Canary Party.
All four board members listed on the ACHC website are either former or current heads of Canary Party, although only two mention their affiliations. Jennifer Larson lists her position as president and co-founder of Canary Party and Patti Carroll says she is executive director of Canary Party. Despite also being co-founder as well as chairman of Canary Party, however, Mark Blaxill lists no affiliation with Canary Party in his bio on the ACHC website, simply saying he is editor-at-large for the (Canary Party-sponsored) blog Age of Autism as well as a director of SafeMinds, although he publicly stepped down from the latter organization’s board of directors last year. Meanwhile, the fourth board member of ACHC, Ginger Taylor, lists no past affiliation with Canary Party despite having been its previous executive director and then its vice president before announcing her departure from the latter position and autism advocacy in general on New Year’s Day.
ACHC may try to make itself look like a unique organization but appears to be nothing more than Canary Party’s fundraising arm. An anonymous source informed me that several Canary Party parents got together to start this new fundraising organization founded on the same premises as the Canary Party’s – fighting chronic disease and promoting individual choice. The mission statements on the homepage of each group’s website are also similar.
Here is the Canary Party homepage description:
“The Canary Party is a movement created to stand up for the victims of medical injury, environmental toxins and industrial foods by restoring balance to our free and civil society and empowering consumers to make health and nutrition decisions that promote wellness.”
And here is the ACHC homepage description:
“Our group was formed in response to a study published in Academic Pediatrics that represented 43% of children (32 million) in the US suffers from a chronic health condition. It is our belief that these rates will continue to increase if parents are not aware of the unhealthy choices in their lifestyle such as industrial processed foods, side effects of vaccine choices, and other environmental and lifestyle factors.”
Although the premise as well as the leaders of the two organizations are the same, it is obvious from their websites that they are trying to look like independent organizations when they are anything but. Since Canary Party is not a non-profit and ACHC is, it would appear that the purpose of the latter organization is to act as a fundraising arm of the former organization. With only $687.12 in the bank by the end of 2013, Canary Party is in need of some new cash. Apparently, ACHC’s purpose is to fulfill that need. ACHC first started filing 990 forms in 2012, but it has yet to publicly announce its existence.
Addendum: As of the date of this post, the link to americancitizensforhealthchoice.org now re-directs to a website with the URL that simply reads healthchoice.org along with the following notification: “This site is down for maintenance. Please check back again soon.” However, the americancitizensforhealthchoice.org homepage can still be found archived.
Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. He currently attends the University of Texas School of Public Health where he is studying for a Ph.D. in Epidemiology.