by Andrew Walden
Adding to its developing reputation for secrecy, the Abercrombie Administration has now clearly lied about at least one aspect of the sudden withdrawal of Dr Neal Palafox’s DoH nomination.
In a short news release January 26, the administration clearly stated that Palafox had asked Governor Abercrombie to withdraw his nomination:
“Dr. Neal Palafox today asked Governor Neil Abercrombie to withdraw his nomination for Director of the State Department of Health. Governor Abercrombie accepted Dr. Palafox’s request and will make a new appointment for the Health Director as soon as possible.”
But this morning’s Star-Advertiser reveals that it was Abercrombie who insisted that Palafox withdraw.
“Gov. Neil Abercrombie asked Dr. Neal Palafox to withdraw his nomination as director of the state Department of Health, but the governor's staff has declined to publicly disclose the reason….
“While the governor's staff would not discuss the reasons or circumstances surrounding the sudden departure, Donalyn Dela Cruz, the governor's spokeswoman, confirmed last night that it was the governor and not Palafox who asked for the withdrawal.”
This only adds to the unanswered questions surrounding the sudden withdrawal. Dr. Palafox is alleged to be the subject of an investigation into medical billing fraud. Whatever advantage the prosecutor’s office might have had from that information being secret has now been lost, yet the public knows nothing about this other than a vague allegation which AP describes as: “TV news reports citing anonymous sources claiming he was under investigation for medical billing fraud.”
And Palafox himself says he knew nothing about it at all. His attorney Brook Hart told the Star-Advertiser:
"He did not volunteer it on his own. He had no idea why the governor asked him to resign. But he did because the governor asked him to do so. He has no information at this point why there's an investigation, what the investigation is about or even a hint about what it is that somebody is claiming that he did wrong. It's a complete mystery."
It is always best to keep a lie simple. And right now “medical billing fraud” is a very simple story. There are no victims to interview. No co-conspirators to question. No records to examine. None of the things which might give credence to the allegation.
Is Palafox being smeared in the media and hounded from office because somehow his nomination interfered with the agenda of other political forces?
(UPDATE) HNN January 28 has an interesting suggestion:
Hart says the timing of the investigation is somewhat suspicious. In Dr. Palafox's short time as health director he did decide to lay off some powerful people in the department, but his lawyer has no idea if that has anything to do with the case.
A January 27 AP article has a very odd denial:
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye's office said allegations that he pressured Abercrombie to oust Palafox are false. "Sen. Inouye and his staff stand ready to assist Gov. Abercrombie and his administration in whatever way possible," said Inouye spokesman Peter Boylan.
Why would Inouye be asked about this? Who is making “allegations that (Inouye) pressured Abercrombie to oust Palafox?” Nobody is telling.
In the same AP article, Palafox is quoted saying:
"I get handed these e-mails about investigations and so forth, but I have no clue. I'm lost."
Emails from whom, to whom, regarding what investigations?
Questions, questions, questions. And no answers from Governor Abercrombie.