On May 2, 2006, Jeannie Kang, LAc, then president of the California State Oriental Medicine Association (CSOMA), e-mailed the CSOMA Board expressing her concerns about the organization opening a $26,000 line of credit.1 On May 7, 2006, Kang e-mailed her resignation to the board, making several allegations regarding this action.2 In her resignation letter, Kang stated that she was going to "inform the members of my reasons for leaving and of my concerns with regard to the credit line and the financial direction of CSOMA." Her resignation was followed quickly by the resignation of two other board members, Randall Neustaedter, LAc, OMD, and Marilyn Allen.
Shortly after the resignations, Acupuncture Today contacted CSOMA's executive director, Bill Mosca, LAc, newly elected President Greg Sperber, LAc, and several other CSOMA officers for interviews regarding Kang's allegations.
After several phone conversations, numerous e-mails, two sets of interview questions and three recorded interview attempts, all parties declined to answer any of the specific questions.
On June 19, 2006, Sperber e-mailed the CSOMA membership a "Call to Action" regarding the article.3 In his e-mail, Sperber claimed that Acupuncture Today "refused to disclose what, if any, specific allegations have been made," even though the allegations were clearly presented by Kang in her two e-mails.
The action by Sperber was successful in generating a small number of e-mails and a few phone calls to the publisher of Acupuncture Today. When CSOMA members contacted AT, they were directed to a section of the Web site (www.acupuncturetoday.com/CSOMA) where they were able to review Kang's e-mails, a letter from her attorney, the interview questions and Sperber's response.
After reviewing the article and the documentation, CSOMA members provided us with the following responses (names of the members have been left out as a courtesy):
"Your referenced article does explainÊa lot. It is a shame, as acupuncturists we need a professional organization, but actions of individuals can effect its results. I appreciate that Acupuncture Today exists. It gives an overall view of what is happening without one organization's bias."
"It looks to me as if CSOMA has to decide if the credit line opened will affect their organization in an effective manner or not. In my opinion I think the resignation by Kang is to be applauded and I honor her stance for integrity."
"Thank you very much for your prompt reply. It appears that I have been misinformed by an urgent letter from Greg Sperber to CSOMA members stating that CSOMA has not received information. As you state below that you have provided this, I apologize for troubling you."
"On reading the article you linked in your response, I see where I have gotten sucked into the spin CSOMA generated in its official-looking e-mail. The questions as they are presented in the article seem straightforward and I would be interested in their answers."
"I agree, it does appear as though I have been misinformed, and I apologize. I appreciate the time and consideration in responding to my e-mail directly and I will forward yours to my colleagues. I was actually not aware that MarilynÊhas resigned from CSOMA as well."
"I believe that your questions were totally appropriate. I can see, however, how Sperber would have felt 'attacked' by them and as a result 'withdrew' and initiated his own attack. Perhaps there would have been a way to make the questions feel 'softer.' Quite honestly, these are exactly the kinds of issues AT has to 'expose' and there is nothing wrong in doing so."
"It sounds like the current leadership of CSOMA has crossed a line. I appreciate both your investigative journalism and the courtesy you extended in writing to me."
"Thanks for the documentation. Indeed, this matter was misrepresented to me. Obviously a thorough vetting is in order."
Dr. Sperber finally did answer Acupuncture Today's interview questions in writing, although after the article was published. By doing so, he was able to avoid the journalistic process which allows for the contrasting of statements by other sources. This means the reader will need to review Kang's e-mails to the board (possibly more than once) and compare her statements against those made by Dr. Sperber. Readers will note a number of contradictions between the two.
Oddly enough, Dr. Sperber continues to insist that "Acupuncture Today steadfastly refused to provide CSOMA with the specific allegations being leveled against it." This statement is in sharp contrast with Executive Director Bill Mosca's initial recorded interview (albeit brief), in which he was told that AT's interview questions were regarding issues relating to Kang's resignation and even suggested that AT "ask Jeannie (Kang)" about her resignation.
While going to press, Acupuncture Today received a letter written "on behalf of our colleague Jeannie Kang, LAc." The letter, which commends Kang for "speaking her truth to the board in what she felt was the correct direction for the organization," is signed by Benjamin Dierauf, LAc, MS, former CSOMA director and president; Howard Kong, MS, LAc, former CSOMA director and president; Michael Turk, LAc, former CSOMA director and executive committee member; Randy Neustaedter, LAc, OMD, former CSOMA director; Karen Reynolds, LAc, former CSOMA director; and Rebekah Christensen (Buckles), former CSOMA executive director.
The letter, along with AT's original article, Jeannie Kang's resignation letter, Dr. Sperber's written responses to our interview questions, and other related documentation are available online at www.acupuncturetoday.com/CSOMA.
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