Ending Spending Action Fund: “Wrong”

The Ending Spending Action Fund twists congressional candidate Richard Carmona (D-AZ)’s resume against him, accusing him of mismanaging a hospital that was deep in debt before his tenure and of having others pick up his dry cleaning on taxpayer-funded time. But that unsubstantiated allegation is sourced solely to a woman with a history credibility issues who was featured in an ad supporting Carmona’s opponent. The ad also suggests Carmona supports all earmarks, when in reality, Carmona was remarking that not all earmarks are wasteful – some can be useful investments in infrastructure.

Hospital Was Plagued By Budgetary Problems Before Carmona Came On Board

Carmona Became CEO Of Kino Community Hospital In 1995. From the Arizona Daily Star: “In 1994, he was appointed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors to chair a commission reviewing the county’s financially troubled Kino Community Hospital. The following year, the board decided Carmona himself was the best solution to the hospital’s problems and named him CEO and medical director.” [Arizona Daily Star via Nexis, 6/16/02]

  • Hospital’s Operating Deficit Was Already $4 Million When Carmona Was Hired. From theArizona Daily Star: “The hospital’s operating deficit, which actually stood closer to $4 million when Carmona was hired, was indeed eliminated during his two years as CEO. But those numbers masked serious financial problems, including a mounting balance of uncollectible accounts that made it seem Kino had more money than it actually did, financial reports show.” [Arizona Daily Star via Nexis, 6/16/02]

Carmona Was Appointed Interim Head Of Entire Pima County Health System In 1997 And Confirmed As Permanent Chief After A Year. From the Associated Press: “The interim head of Pima County’s health care system is the top choice of 100 applicants in a national search and is expected to get the post permanently. The Board of Supervisors will decide Tuesday whether to follow a Pima Health Care Commission recommendation to name Richard Carmona chief of the system. Board members on Friday indicated that Carmona is likely to get the votes he needs for the job. Since July 1997, the 48-year-old doctor has been the interim head of the $ 230 million health care system, which includes Kino Community Hospital, home health care and long-term indigent care.” [Associated Press via Nexis, 9/13/98]

  • Department Was Already $36 Million In Debt At Time Of Carmona’s Appointment In 1997. From the Arizona Republic: “At the time of Carmona’s appointment in 1997, the department was about $36 million in debt, based on reports from the Associated Press.” [AZCentral.com, 10/16/12]

Pima County Health Care System Had Been Running Deficits Since 1982, With Vast Majority Due To Community Hospital. From the Tucson Citizen: “The budgets: The $180 million health-care system accounts for one-third of the county budget. Kino Community Hospital’s budget is $55 million. Red ink: The system, which is supposed to pay its own way through contracts and fees, has been running annual deficits that total $46.2 million since 1982. Of that deficit, $40 million is at Kino.” [Tucson Citizen1/5/00]

Most Kino Hospital Debt Incurred Providing Services To Uninsured Or Underinsured Patients. From the Tucson Citizen: “The past nine years, Kino has cost almost $70 million to run, with debt anticipated to be about $13 million to $15 million this fiscal year. Most of the debt over the years has been accrued from providing uncompensated services, mainly to uninsured and underinsured patients, and undocumented immigrants.” [Tucson Citizen via Nexis, 10/21/02]

Tucson’s Health Care Market Is Particularly Strapped. From an Arizona Daily Star article about underfunded trauma centers:

Most of the blame for that is placed on what many see as Tucson’s severely squeezed health care market – now considered one of the worst in the country – with these factors most often cited:

  • The domination of managed care HMOs, which have significantly lowered reimbursements to doctors and hospitals, and have forced people to crowd emergency rooms when they can’t get in to see their doctors.
  • Our proximity to the Mexican border, with illegal immigrants who oftenup [sic] as unpaid-for trauma cases.
  • Federal laws mandating that no patient be refused emergency care, regardless of nationality or ability to pay.
  • One of the highest uninsured populations in the nation, at more than 25 percent. [Arizona Daily Star via Nexis, 5/27/01]

Carmona Resigned Position In 1999. From the Arizona Daily Star: “A year later, though, the board accepted Carmona’s resignation after Kino’s debts continued to mount. ‘I think in some ways I’ve been treated unfairly,’ Carmona said in 1999 about being pressured to leave. ‘I’ve exposed problems, and now I’m being held responsible for those problems.’” [Arizona Daily Star via Nexis, 6/16/02]

  • Hospital Board Chairman: Carmona “Did A Good Job…Problems  Existed Before He Entered The System.” From the Los Angeles Times: “Carmona quit at a time when Tucson’s Kino Community Hospital was facing mounting financial difficulties. At the time, Carmona was criticized for not keeping officials apprised of the hospital’s problems, while Carmona’s defenders say not all the difficulties can be laid at his feet. ‘I think those who look at it critically would say he did a good job,’ said Mike Rollins, former chairman of the hospital board. ‘The problems existed before he entered the system.’” [Los Angeles Times3/29/02]
  • Hospital Chief Of Staff: Budgetary Problems Were Inevitable Because It Served Poor And Uninsured Patients. From the Arizona Daily Star: “A year later, though, the board accepted Carmona’s resignation after Kino’s debts continued to mount. ‘I think in some ways I’ve been treated unfairly,’ Carmona said in 1999 about being pressured to leave. ‘I’ve exposed problems, and now I’m being held responsible for those problems.’” Dr. Lenn Ditmanson, Kino’s former chief of staff, said the hospital’s problems were inevitable given its mission of treating poor and uninsured patients.” [Arizona Daily Star via Nexis, 6/16/02]
  • Pima Supervisor: Carmona Held System Together In “Tough, Unstable Times.” From theArizona Daily Star: “The year after Carmona assumed interim control of Pima County’s entire health care system, Kino’s operating deficit rose to $4.5 million. But that didn’t dissuade supervisors from making Carmona’s promotion permanent in September 1998. ‘I think he’s held a system together (in) pretty tough, unstable times,’ then-Supervisor Raul Grijalva said at the time. ‘Now it’s time to take that system and (Kino Community Hospital) to a whole new level.’” [Arizona Daily Star via Nexis, 6/16/02]

Carmona Promised To Work To Bring Infrastructure-Supporting Money To Arizona

Carmona Specified That Not ALL Earmarks Are Wasteful And That He Supports “Smart Investment In Our Communities.” From the Arizona Capitol Times article cited by the ad: “When Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake and Democratic former Surgeon General Richard Carmona weren’t attacking with or defending against accusations of inconsistency on their positions during their first debate, the two U.S. Senate hopefuls drew key distinctions on a variety of topics, but none more than the role of federal earmarks. Where Flake has always held high his stark opposition to the practice, Carmona framed the issue as neglecting opportunities to invest in Arizona’s infrastructure. Carmona said he would fight to bring federal dollars into Arizona, in order to invest in the environment that he said will spur economic growth among small business owners. ‘I keep hearing from businessmen, ‘We need infrastructure, we need infrastructure.’ And what they tell me is, ‘Congressman Flake is not available, because he thinks these things are bad,’ ‘ Carmona said. ‘I think what we ought to be doing is working with business to create infrastructure to make Arizona the most attractive place to live, and people will come with their ideas and businesses will grow.’ […] ‘Not all earmarks are pork,’ Carmona said. ‘What we’re talking about is smart investment in our communities.’” [Arizona Capitol Times via Nexis, 10/11/12]

Unsubstantiated Dry Cleaning Accusation Comes From Supporter Of Carmona’s Opponent With Credibility Issues

Claim That Carmona Had People Pick Up Dry Cleaning On Taxpayer-Funded Time Comes From Testimony Of Cristina Beato. From testimony Cristina Beato gave before the House Oversight Committee as part of the committee’s investigation into the politicization of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General:

[BEATO:] But there’s more than the travel.  Let me tell you why I formed this committee.


[BEATO:] I got word that the driver was going around picking up his dry cleaning, okay? I about fell out of my chair.  And on my watch, I wasn’t going to             have anything like that happen. [Cristina Beato Interview, House Committee On Oversight And Government Reform via Politico.com, 11/2/07]

Carmona: Dry Cleaning Allegation “Never Happened.” From the Sierra Vista Herald: “Additionally, another allegation surfaced that he had his staff do such things as pick up his dry cleaning. ‘It never happened,’ Carmona said, adding it’s just a continuing part of a smear campaign because Flake and his surrogates, which now include McCain and Kyl ‘will not talk about the issues.’” [Sierra Vista Herald, 10/28/12]

Beato Is Featured In An Ad Supporting Carmona’s Opponent. From the Arizona Republic: “Democratic U.S. Senate contender Richard Carmona is strongly denying a former Bush administration colleague’s allegations that as U.S. surgeon general he twice angrily banged on her home door after midnight. Cristina Beato, who supervised Carmona in her role as acting assistant secretary for health and frequently battled with him, told congressional investigators about the alleged incidents while testifying in 2007. She recently recounted the story in a television ad for Republican Jeff Flake, Carmona’s Senate rival.” [Arizona Republic, 10/13/12]

Beato Was Never Confirmed As Assistant Secretary Of Health Position Due To Questions About Her Truthfulness. From the Phoenix New Times: “The piece features Cristina Beato, a Cuban immigrant who rose to the ranks of Acting Assistant Secretary of Health under President George W. Bush from 2003 to 2005 — but wasn’t confirmed to that post by the U.S. Senate amid questions that she wasn’t truthful about her professional credentials.” [Phoenix New Times, 10/18/12]

Washington Post: Beato’s Resume Included A Number Of Discrepancies. From the Washington Post: “Cristina V. Beato was named last July as assistant secretary of health, one of the top policy officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, but has yet to explain several discrepancies regarding her credentials. These include claims that she served as medical attache at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey, received a master’s degree in public health from the University of Wisconsin, ‘established’ an occupational health clinic at the University of New Mexico and published a scientific paper on inert gases. At several institutions listed on Beato’s résumé, officials said they could find no evidence of her service, while former colleagues at the University of New Mexico and an affiliated hospital in Albuquerque disputed assertions she made, saying at a minimum she had puffed up her role in several projects. […] In several instances, Beato’s résumé is vague. Under professional experience, she lists ‘medical consultant’ at the Technical-Vocational Institute and Presbyterian Senior Health Spectrum in Albuquerque and a 12-year relationship with the Sheet Metal Workers in Washington. None of the organizations has any record on Beato, nor do officials at the State Department, who said they have never heard term ‘medical attache.’ Under educational experience, Beato lists: ‘successful candidate, occupational medicine, MPH (master’s of public health), University of Wisconsin, 1995.’ A university spokeswoman said the school does not offer such a degree. […] Yet even Beato’s friends said it appears that she gave herself extra credit on her résumé. At the All Faiths Receiving Home in Albuquerque, Executive Director Steve Johnson praised Beato as a dedicated volunteer physician who provided basic care to the abused and neglected. But she was not the medical director, as her résumé states, he added. William Wiese, director of the Institute for Public Health at the University of New Mexico, said it was inaccurate for Beato to say she had ‘established’ the school’s occupational health clinic. ‘The clinic existed before she was hired. There was another medical director before her,’ he said.” [Washington Post, 6/10/04]

[NARRATOR:] He was fired from a community hospital for financial mismanagement, creating so much debt the county raised property taxes to bail out the hospital. He thinks wasteful earmarks are smart investments, maybe because his income is from companies that get millions in taxpayer-funded stimulus. Is it any wonder as a federal employee in Washington, he was investigated for having others pick up his dry cleaning on the taxpayers’ dime? Richard Carmona: No respect for taxpayers. Wrong for Arizona. Ending Spending Action Fund is responsible for the content of this message. [Ending Spending Action Fund via YouTube.com, 10/26/12]