Texas taxpayers billed for lawmaker’s quack ‘Jesus shot’
Back in 2014, the Friendly Atheist reported on the activities of a certain Dr John Michael Lonergan, a convicted felon, who, after leaving prison in Ohio where he was serving a sentence involving tax evasion, mail fraud, and healthcare fraud, moved to Oklahoma to start marketing a “miracle” injection – at $300 a prick.
His syringes, according to one delighted patient, Caitlin Dobbs, contain a concoction of steroids and vitamin B made to a recipe that Jesus himself gave to Lonergan 30 years earlier.
Media, reporting the story at the time, dubbed it the “the Jesus shot”, and said many folk in Oklahoma were queuing up to get themselves injected by “Dr Mike”.
When news of the “miracle” cure reached the ears of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, above, he took himself off to Oklahoma to get the controversial but legal medication which Lonergan claims takes away all pain for life. Nothing wrong with that, of course, except that Miller, according to this report, got taxpayers to foot the bill.
Miller admitted that he had received the shot. He refused to divulge details, but conceded:
It’s worked out good.
A review of travel records show that taxpayers picked up a $1,120 tab for flights and a rental car for Miller and an aide to travel to Oklahoma where Miller claims he toured the Oklahoma National Stockyards and met with Oklahoma lawmakers as well as the state’s top agriculture official.
“Never happened,” said the officials who revealed that they only briefly met with Miller for a handshake and a photo-op which Miller’s office posted to Facebook.
Pressed about the meeting and tour, Miller now admits that he requested the meeting with the Oklahoma agriculture official – and then did not show up.
Other Texas lawmakers are disturbed by Miller’s actions. One, Rep Jerry Shoemake (D) said:
He’s saying that was the business purpose of his trip? Really?
Experts point out that billing taxpayers for expenses associated with a private medical issue would be illegal. Explained Buck Wood, a lobbyist who specialises in ethics:
Oh, no question about it. Using it for a medical procedure? I can’t even imagine anybody doing that. But I guess I haven’t seen everything.
This is not the first time that Miller – described as a small government conservative – has been accused of playing fast and loose with taxpayer dollars.
Upon taking office in 2015, Miller hired four friends and campaign aides to new $180,000-a-year jobs without opening the application process to the public.
Additionally, Miller has billed taxpayers for first class air fare, charged the state for cocktails and billed the state for a trip to Fort Worth for a TV interview that he claims was canceled after he arrived.
Asked about billing the trip to Oklahoma, a spokesperson in Miller’s office denied any wrongdoing and said the lawmaker is paying the state back, saying:
Out of an abundance of caution the commissioner is reimbursing the state for the cost of this trip.