It’s time to take a look at how the sausage is made. I’m writing this, not to vilify another human being, who may very well be driven by a strong belief, but to expose a culture in which “experts” and legislators can be placed and elevated to drive pharmaceutical agendas.
Sometimes in matters of public health, ambition and absolute thinking are the opportunistic infections and regulatory capture creates a terrain ripe for a super spreader/mass formation event.
A Doctor in the House
Herb Conaway has an impressive resume. He studied politics at Princeton, medicine at Jefferson Medical College and got a law degree at Rutgers. He has served as a U.S. Air Force Captain and as director of the internal medicine clinic at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, where he continues to work.
Since 1998, Conaway has also served in New Jersey’s General Assembly and chaired Assembly Health Committee for over a decade. He is also the Director of the Burlington County Health Department, where he has a role in implementing some of the laws he helps make.
Importantly, Assemblyman Herb Conaway is a staunch vaccine supporter and has played a leading role in most of the major health legislation signed into law during his extensive tenure as health chair. His political career can be credited for many of the medical mandates in New Jersey.
“The Goal of Near Universal Mandatory Vaccination”
This past June, Assemblyman Herb Conaway introduced A4334, a bill that would require students, staff, and “others present” at institutions of higher education to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
This is no surprise to anyone who has been following Conaway’s career. The Democratic lawmaker is skilled at identifying and eliminating any obstacles that stand in the way of vaccine compliance, which may explain why pharmaceutical interests have been so supportive of him. His personal and professional beliefs make him an asset to the pharmaceutical companies and his proposals and assertions have aligned with pharmaceutical agendas for throughout his lengthy political career.
Conaway has made his position on vaccines abundantly clear. In 2015, his bill to restrict religious exemptions was met with strong resistance from constituents, who addressed concerns about government interference in personal health decisions and the exercise of religious freedoms. His response:
“We’ve heard too many people playing politics with vaccinations, despite vaccinations having been proven as a vital public health success story. In the end, the only thing government must balance is what’s best for the overall public health, and that means unambiguously supporting vaccinations and making clear that any exemptions must be limited.”
In 2019, when he introduced a bill, this time to eliminate religious exemptions in New Jersey entirely, he explained,
“I was convinced when you took everything together, the uncomfortable nature of asking someone about their religious tenets, and the difficulty government has in deciding whether those religious tenets are bona fide, that it would be simpler to remove the religious exemption, in furtherance of the goal of near universal mandatory vaccination.”
Fortunately, New Jerseyans showed up by the thousands to block that legislation. But Conaway continues to come after anything that comes between shots and arms. Earlier this year, he sponsored A1991, which would further restrict medical exemptions and subject their approval to the authority of local boards of health.
Many constituents continue to express grave concerns about some of his proposed legislation and the not-so-gradual stripping away of individual rights in the name of public health. Unfortunately, Conaway has demonstrated an unwillingness to engage in any thoughtful dialogue around patient rights and informed consent.
It took legislators and New Jersey parents nearly 7 years to get a hearing for a bill, originally introduced in 2004, that would allow parents to claim “conscientious exemptions” to mandatory vaccinations. Many supporters showed up to a 2011 committee hearing to voice (in an allotted 90 seconds) their support of the bill, but after over an hour of compelling testimony, Assemblyman Conaway refused to hold a vote. It was the same year he began introducing legislation to restrict religious exemptions.
In 2018, he introduced his bill to restrict religious exemptions on March 29 - which also happened to be the day before Good Friday and Passover. He scheduled a public hearing on April 5, coinciding with Spring Break and religious holidays and gave those who rearranged their schedules to testify a mere 60 seconds to speak. Sixty-four people (randomly selected from a list) testified against the measure - among them parents of children who had suffered adverse reactions to vaccines and others who claimed the bill presented an unconstitutional infringement of their religious freedom. Conaway interrupted tearful testimony to count down - “Ten seconds… Time!”
Dissent Among Legislative Peers
In 2019, when NJ Assemblyman Jamal Holley voiced his opposition to Conaway’s bill to eliminate religious exemptions for mandatory vaccinations, Conaway revealed some other important information about the inner workings of Trenton.
“Well, let me just say that it is unusual for someone to come out against the held and demonstrated stance of the presiding officer in his house and the majority of the members in the house of which he serves,” he said. “As to re-election, I have no comment on that, but I would just say his actions are rare. I wouldn’t say they’re unprecedented, but they are rare.”
(Holley wasn’t the only one to show courage under fire and face the consequences. Senator Joe Lagana refused to support the matching senate bill. As a result, then Senate President Steve Sweeney removed him from both the Senate Health Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lagana also lost his leadership money – additional funds to supplement his annual staff allowance.
Sweeney subsequently lost his seat to truck driver and political newbie Ed Durr. Perhaps New Jersey is waking up.)
A Different Story for Opioids
Conaway’s penchant for government interference in patient decisions shifts considerably when it comes to the regulation of opioids. More than once he blocked legislation that was geared towards limiting opioid abuse, saying,
“The concerns that I have deal with intrusions by the government in the doctor-patient relationship…That relationship is critical to patients receiving the care they need. It’s critical to good outcomes in healthcare.”
In 2016, the Senate passed legislation to restrict first-time opioid prescriptions to seven days, but Conaway would not hold hearings in his committee. “Either you believe that the government can practice medicine or you don’t,” he said.
Another anti-opioid abuse bill passed 36-1 in the Senate but ultimately died because Conaway refused to post it to the Assembly Health Committee. S2366/A3712 would have required doctors and others prescribing opioids to minors to warn parents about the dangers of addiction and counsel them about alternatives to opioids, but Conaway felt it was unnecessary to mandate those warnings. He was, however, comfortable introducing legislation, written with the help of pharmaceutical companies, that would have mandated insurance coverage for new abuse-deterrent drugs. “If it’s a good idea, I don’t really care where it came from,” he said.
But many believed it wasn’t such a good idea. A 2017 report from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) suggested that shifting everyone to abuse deterrent opioids would increase prescription drug costs by $475 million annually, while reducing abuse-related costs by only $21 million. It also discovered evidence linking the shift to a rise in heroin use rather than an actual reduction in opioid use overall.
It’s hard not to notice that his most enthusiastic and longstanding supporters have deep ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Assemblyman Conaway has long been a top beneficiary of Big Pharma campaign contributions.
In 2016, A joint investigation by the Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity found that drugmakers that produce opioid painkillers and allied advocacy groups spent more than $880 million on campaign contributions and lobbying over a 10 year span towards influencing state and federal policies. In New Jersey, home to many drug company offices and headquarters, groups within the Pain Care Forum - a coalition of drugmakers, trade groups and nonprofits supported by industry funding -invested heavily in the chairmen of both chambers’ health committees – Assemblyman Herb Conaway and Senator Joe Vitale. These longtime lawmakers have a critical role in controlling statehouse agendas.
In Burlington County, Conaway can also determine how laws are applied. In March of 2019, less than three months after the Democrats took control of county government, Conaway was appointed as the Burlington County Director of Public Health by the county’s personnel committee, adding a $150,000-salary. The position had been vacant since 2015 and was neither advertised nor voted on by the full Freeholder board in the open. Instead, his appointment was approved in a closed door meeting with a panel consisting of the government’s administrator, director of human resources, department heads, freeholder director and two additional freeholders.
Conaway is not alone in his agenda. There are legislators championing vaccine mandates throughout the country, particularly on the coasts. Maybe they all believe that all vaccines are “safe and effective” and the best available solution. But they still need to participate in a democratic process.
There’s clearly a system in place to assign important decisions that impact all of us to people who will stop at nothing to achieve a singular, myopic goal, regardless of any new evidence that comes along.
We need to change that.
New Jersey, and all American citizens, deserve public health policies that are rooted in sound science and American values and honor patient rights and the doctor-patient relationship.
If you want to take action and stay up-to-date on NJ legislation, sign up with Stand for Health Freedom: https://standforhealthfreedom.com/action/no-college-mandates/
My first step into medical freedom activism happened 6 years ago when I got involved with a consumer non-profit organization working to assure that the medicinal herb Kratom remains legal. It also works with distributors and exporters to maintain its purity and safety profile. Kratom, a leaf found exclusively in Southeast Asia is widely used by people who suffer from physical and mental pain and addiction. It’s also an alternative to caffeine providing a mood lift. In my time working with the American Kratom Association I’ve met numerous folks who have overcome their dependence on pain pills as well as antidepressants and even street drugs like heroin. Some have even overcome life threatening addiction. So why would the FDA be pushing so hard to keep this wonderful leaf off the market waging an endless propaganda campaign to convince state and local governments and health boards that it’s a dangerous and highly addictive substance? (They tried to ban it federally but the DEA refused to act upon their proposed scheduling after learning the truth from thousands of us who submitted public comments to them in 2016). Once again we see in Conaway and his back room cronies the way things work in the established Pharma-Industrial Complex. It’s just like the way we’ve watched inexpensive effective therapeutics both allopathic and natural be squashed to make room for the MRNA Shots and other profit driven drugs throughout this bogus emergency. Public health is no longer about protecting people who are suffering - it’s all about helping the rich and powerful become even more so.
Thank you, Anna, for posting this! Laws prohibit mandates for EUA, unlicensed medical treatments including the unlicensed so-called "vaccines". See this website for details:
I send email to NJ state legislature committee per the stand for health freedom link you provided.