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Since then, the Geiers have done little but wait while the DOH bureaucracy has presented them with obstacle after obstacle.
This past April 16, according to our source, Kompothecras visited the governor's mansion to complain about the DOH to David Foy, then Crist's director of policy. Later that afternoon, Foy convened an impromptu meeting among himself, Kompothecras, Kanjian, and the DOH's Siedlecki, Gill, and Dr. Shairi Turner. Tensions ran high. Reportedly, Gill and Turner struggled to remain respectful while Kompothecras berated them. (Kompothecras, the source says, was the "driver" of the meetings.)
This behavior is odd, almost singularly so, considering that access to Florida's confidential medical records is a privilege, not a right, for any researcher. Those seeking access to such records generally approach the DOH as supplicants seeking a favor.
Nevertheless, on August 6 — the day Kompothecras penned his angry letter to Gill and her associates at the DOH — the Geiers were issuing demands. "The present situation is completely unacceptable," they wrote to the DOH. "This project has been lingering for over a year. It seems from the actions taken by officials from the State of Florida that every single possible delay tactic has been employed to prevent the present study from going forward."
Neither the Geiers nor the governor's press office would comment for this story, though Kompothecras's spokesperson and longtime associate, Rich Swier, is eager to defend his friend. Kompothecras "is a father of two autistic children," he explains. "He is very passionate about this cause."
Yet he insists Kompothecras neither would nor could wield undue influence in Tallahassee. "It just so happens that he's friends with Charlie [Crist] — that's well known... Whether he's out there helping him politically, that's completely independent of [his position on] the task force. Dr. Gary wakes up every morning with this energy, this desire to help."
But Kompothecras has all but bragged of his ability, via generous giving, to enlist politicians in the anti-vaccine fight. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported last year that he donated more than $15,000 to state Rep. Kevin Ambler and state Sen. Mike Bennett; both have backed legislation that would weaken Florida's mandatory vaccine regimen.
Kompothecras told the paper that his personal lawyer had helped Bennett write an anti-vaccine bill. When he sent the irate email to DOH, the doctor copied Bennett. Whether Kompothecras's political friends can enforce his will at the DOH is unclear. What is clear is that the DOH is afraid they might.