Sallie Bernard is the president of an organization which claims to oppose the presence of mercury in vaccines and to raise concerns about autism’s association with vaccination – the Coalition for SafeMinds (Sensible action for ending mercury-induced disorders). Yet Bernard – who has not responded when questioned for this article – is still a board member of and fundraiser for Autism Speaks even after it has been dubbed a “Sock-Puppet For The CDC” by the SafeMinds-sponsored Age of Autism blog. The criticism was in response to a position statement by Autism Speaks proclaiming that vaccines don’t cause autism and urging that all children be fully vaccinated. Yet the week after the statement, Sallie Bernard was quoted in a press release about her plan to raise money for Autism Speaks’ Light It Up Blue Aspen campaign:
“Light It Up Blue Aspen raised a great deal of funds for Autism thanks to dedicated supporters like Sentient Jet. We look forward to another successful event that will have a positive impact on the families in our community and all the people living within the Autism spectrum disorder.”
Though Bernard did not respond to questions concerning her continual support of Autism Speaks, the event details shed further light on Bernard’s role in the fundraiser that was held on February 15th, 2015:
“Bid on luxury items from Aspen Magazine’s ‘shades of blue’ silent auction table or on one-of-a-kind live auction experiences while raising funds and awareness for Autism. Hosted by Tom and Sallie Bernard along with honored and celebrity guests Olympic Gold Medalist Jonny Moseley, Dr. Laura Berman of Emmy winning CBS show, The Doctors and more!”
The ongoing support of Autism Speaks by SafeMinds’ president is less surprising when put into context. Despite public perception of SafeMinds as crusading against mercury in vaccinations, the group has done more to undermine such efforts. The organization gained notoriety for hijacking the 2012 congressional autism hearing after its lobbyist misrepresented a key organizer of the event to congressional staff that prevented him from testifying about the CDC cover-up of vaccine injury. The misrepresentation also caused the hearing topic itself to be changed away from the cover-up and to the vaguer “federal response” to autism’s rising prevalence instead. The same organizer SafeMinds effectively kept out of the congressional hearing also criticized the group for not supporting a worldwide ban of thimerosal – the mercury-based preservative in vaccines. SafeMinds was also implicated in the throwing of the autism omnibus that denied justice to 4,900 petitioners for vaccine injury claims and also tried to set up a security trap for two expert witnesses at its 2012 congressional briefing on the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
Back in 2004, SafeMinds was aware the Institute of Medicine (IOM) was operating in breach of its congressional charter at the behest of CDC only to later thank IOM for holding the very meeting SafeMinds initially protested against. That meeting would become the final precursor to the infamous 2004 IOM report that was produced to whitewash any association between autism and vaccines. When Autism Speaks put out a message concurring with the Institute of Medicine’s 2011 report denying vaccine dangers, Bernard remained on the board without making a sound.
In 2012 shortly before the congressional autism hearing, a former donor to SafeMinds asked her to step down from Autism Speaks’ board due to the organization’s views on vaccines. She reportedly demanded $1 million in return for her resignation; the donor refused. Bernard did not reply to questioning for this article when asked to confirm the amount of money she allegedly demanded. She did not make any attempt to justify her ongoing support of Autism Speaks either.
Yet Sallie Bernard was raising money for Autism Speaks right after the organization was called a “Sock-Puppet For The CDC” by a blog that SafeMinds sponsors. If SafeMinds’ president would remain on the board of a CDC sock-puppet group and continue to raise money for it, then perhaps she is a sock-puppet for the CDC herself.
See on Autism Investigated.